Advantage: DAESH

I stumbled across a post at Bloomberg, cataloguing the results of U. S. bombing in our conflict with DAESH prior to the Islamic State’s capture of Ramadi, that caught my eye:

In the month before the city of Ramadi in western Iraq fell, U.S. air strikes destroyed an armored personnel carrier, three humvees, three tanks, four mortars, four gun-mounted pick up trucks and two vehicle bombs belonging to the Islamic State outside the city. On Friday, Lieutenant Colonel Brian Fickel, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, shared this data with me, adding that the U.S. also hit 25 “fighting positions” and 14 pieces of “miscellaneous equipment.”

Fickel told me Centcom disputed aspects of my column on Thursday, which disclosed how U.S. intelligence agencies were able to observe the Islamic State’s buildup of forces and equipment prior to the decisive battle, but the Pentagon “did not order airstrikes against the convoys before the battle started.” (I spoke with Centcom before publishing that column, but was not given the information Fickel has since provided.)

which forms an interesting juxtaposition with an article at from earlier in the week on the materiel captured by DAESH when they took Ramadi:

The ISIS fleet of captured U.S. military vehicles, including M1A1 tanks, grew by more than 100 when Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) fled the provincial capital of Ramadi 60 miles west of Baghdad and abandoned their equipment , Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
In addition, “there were some artillery pieces left behind,” said Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, but he could not say how many.
About 100 wheeled vehicles and “in the neighborhood of dozens of tracked vehicles” were lost to ISIS when the last remaining Iraqi defenders abandoned the city of about 500,000, Warren said.
The tracked vehicles were mostly armored personnel carriers but “maybe half a dozen tanks” were in the mix, Warren said. He did not say what type of tanks they were. Photos posted by ISIS on social media purported to show about 10 M1A1 Abrams tanks in their possession and large amounts of captured ammunition.

The Middle East is awash in weapons, ammunition, and military equipment, much of it furnished by us. It seems to me that there must be a cheaper, easier, and less risky way for us to reduce DAESH’s capacity for waging war. We’re destroying the equipment in retail while they capture it in wholesale.

They’re using a classic Fourth Generation Warfare technique. They don’t need to develop their own production facilities as long as we’re willing to supply their arms and ammo for them. We have an overwhelming tactical advantage over them that we’re unable to exploit because of our own strategic weakness.

3 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    Okay, so in a month we destroyed 13 of their vehicles. (And for nine of those vehicles the munition we used probably cost more than the vehicle, especially factoring in delivery costs.)

    On the day Ramadi fell, ISIS voluntarily exploded 30 of their own vehicles to crack the defenses of the city.

    I’m thinking that blowing up their trucks is probably not going to be that effective, despite the assurances of the President and the “top men” in his Administration. (This isn’t a Mad Max movie, after all.) And I’m really sure that calling in a fighter bomber strike to take out ONE MORTAR is ineffective as hell without useful ground forces to follow up the attack.

    Apparently no one in the White House or Pentagon has ever heard of cost-benefit analysis, and that’s a scary notion to contemplate.

  • jan Link

    We are merely “symbolically” engaged in augmented warfare, visa vie the Obama’s reluctant U.S. strategy of being in the backseat of any attempts to “destroy: ISIS. In fact the primary strength being deployed is from the president’s mouth, by the words frequently chosen in his public performances articulating his foreign policy goals.

  • ... Link

    (And I know what you’re going to say, Schuler, that the benefits they hope to reap are all of an American domestic political nature. It still doesn’t add up.)

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