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AtheistDane

Question about ISIS's tactics

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What is it that has made them so successful?

Can someone explain their tactics?

The incompetence of their foes.

Exploit all the fears and deficiencies their enemies have with little consideration of death.

They are the apex of the wahhabi jihadist cancer upon the world. While they have had a advantage in some aspects over the negligent fighters they have faced it wont last forever.

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Just got back from dinner with ME specialist who lived there. Basically said that Iraq road to Baghdad is a bunch of small villages that were easily intimidated by killings/beheadings. Took Mosul cos Iraqi army disintegrated. Maintains that ISIS is still only about 30K. The real question is how could such a relatively well-trained and well funded army suddenly appear. Didn't get a good answer on that except initially funded by Oman.

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The real question is how could such a relatively well-trained and well funded army suddenly appear. Didn't get a good answer on that except initially funded by Oman.

This puzzles me as well. They had tanks, artillery and other good stuff, but they seem to have just melted away. Honestly thought the US had trained them better.

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I was referring to the ISIS forces as well-trained and funded. It takes a long time to do that. So where were they for the last few years?

I still think ISIS could be the best thing for the west if we can get the ME countries fighting each other (with weapons we sell to them). So, I still think if we didn't somehow invent ISIS, we should have.

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Oh, didn't properly read the last bit of your post, so misunderstood your meaning.

Well, yeah I guess you are right - they do seem pretty well trained and equipped for a "new" player in the ME, seeming coming out of nowhere. What would Oman's interest in ISIS actions be?

Don't know if war in the ME would be a good thing. We still need their oil. And if Israel somehow got dragged into such a war, the west would have to intervene.

Could that ME specialist say anything about how ISIS operates on a tactical level. I mean small groups of men in technicals hardly seem like an all conquering force?

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I was referring to the ISIS forces as well-trained and funded. It takes a long time to do that. So where were they for the last few years?

The group we today know as ISIS did not appear just out of nothing but has, in some form or another, existed ever since the fall of the Saddam regime. After the war in Iraq in 2003, several hundered thousand soldiers and members of the previous Saddam-era government suddenly were 'unemployed' and many if not most of them dissatisfied with the new leadership. This was the hour of birth of the iraqi insurgency, wich later contributed to the formation of ISIS. The religous nature of ISIS comes from the way the distribution of power changed after Saddams fall: Saddam, a sunni musilm, had formed a regime where almost all important positions were held by other sunnis (wich made up only 1/5th of the overall population), while the countries shiite majority (among other groups) was kept away from power. After the US-led invasion, the new governments mostly consisted of shiite muslims, wich further encouraged the sunni-dominated iraqi insurgency. During the american occupation of Iraq however, the insurgency was compareably effectively surpressed. The insurgents did though have years of time (almost a decade) to gain experience in guerilla warfare, and when, a year after the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq in 2011, the Syrian civil war started, they had the opportunity to bolster their already motivated fighters with captured gear from Syria and to form 'alliances' or 'unite' with other radical syrian groups, incorporating their men and weapons into their own structures. The withdrawal of US troops and the war in Syria are IMO the key reasons for why ISIS could become so strong so quickly. If neither had happened, ISIS (or a similar group) would probably still exist today, but it would not nearly be as powerful as it currently is.

Another factor that certainly contributed to the way ISIS as it is today is funding by foreign countries, but according to most sources i ve seen this only makes a up a small percentage of ISIS' financial assets (like 5-10%). Economically ISIS mostly relies on voluntary support from the local population, looting, ransom money and oil sales.

Interestingly there are many similarities between the rise of ISIS in Iraq and the rise of the Nazis in 1930s Germany. In both cases the countries were destroyed by a devastating war, followed by a peroid of occupation and a weak democratic government. In both cases there were hundereds of thousands of unemployed veterans, many of them still loyal to the old regime. In both cases the weak democtratic government failed to fill in the gap the old autocratic regime left and in both cases extremists quickly started to gain ground, filling that power vacuum.

I still think ISIS could be the best thing for the west if we can get the ME countries fighting each other (with weapons we sell to them). So, I still think if we didn't somehow invent ISIS, we should have.

I tend to disagree. The best thing to happen to the ME would certainly be half a century of democracy, political and economical stability, just as we in Europa had it after the last great war. Those are the only things that effectively prevent extremism. Continous fighting in the ME will only destabilize the region further and make it an even better breeding ground for extremists who wish to harm the West.

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Re oil, the US is now a net exporter. So, from US perspective, ME oil can disappear and/or oil prices can go thru the roof and all would be good.

Re "The best thing to happen to the ME would certainly be half a century of democracy, political and economical stability".

Agreed. That would be wonderful. However, looking at the last decades, it just isn't going to happen within any reasonable time span. So, the next "best" thing is to neutralize all the problems there in some way. ISIS vs the entire region is just one possibility - with the added "bonus" of expanded arms sales from the west to the region (to help get western economies going). Hope that you understand that am talking amoral Machiavellian realpolitik.

Speaking of which... On Thursday, a BA flight from Heathrow to Las Vegas turned back for an unspecified medical emergency. Usually, the flight is either resumed later or passengers put on another aircraft. But, in this case it was cancelled. Normally, this is newsworthy. However, it's hard to find any info online about this incident. Also, several hundred troops deployed to Heathrow. Wondered if it was Ebola related, and info suppressed. Just curious if anyone in UK saw any news about it.

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The whole former saddam era soldiers joining IS thing is kinda over blown. The Saddam era baathists more or less have their own groups that had a uneasy peace with IS but after the fall of mosul now are turning against them but at the same time still hostile to Baghdad. Their ideologies just don't mesh well and thats why they have had their break.

The main group being lead by former Baath soldiers and political figures is the Army of the Men of the Naqshbandi Order. They are not on friendly terms with IS after being brushed aside after the fall of Mosul. So they may have helped IS advance but its not these men that have bolstered their ranks and given them a edge tactically at least recently.

It's military skills are the culmination of of all years of fighting from when Zarqawi first created the group that would become IS. Its the core of its leaders that survived the insurgency, the sunni awakening, and the fighting in Syria that give it a tactical edge. They have also taken in a lot of fighters around Syria have a lot of experience of fighting the SAA when they were in other groups.

You also can't count out all the foreign fighters that have experience and training from being in the militaries of their home countries or other jihadist conflicts around the world. This all adds up to make a force that can slap around a unprepared and uncoordinated enemy when it meets one.

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The group we today know as ISIS did not appear just out of nothing but has, in some form or another, existed ever since the fall of the Saddam regime.

Correct. They were called ISI, and had many smaller groups/gangs that were affiliated.

Not surprising that Naqshabandi is already butting heads; eventual it's all going to fall apart on them. When people realize it's all about money and power, and not ideology....

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I think the strength of Islamic extremist militias like the Taliban or ISIS is the steady inflow of fresh fighters. They are very resistant against casualties inflicted on them, remember, the US military in Iraq (from 2003 to 2006) killed ~40.000, wounded ~200.000 and captured ~20.000 insurgents ! But they are still able to attract new fighters...

ISIS is also taking heavy casualties, especially when they try to fight like a conventional army (like in Kobane) and especially now with US warplanes in the sky.

Its not like they have a unlimited number of tanks, technicals or artillery. Every day they loose more and more equipment because of the airstrikes.

If you ask me, Kobane will be the last time they mass their combat power for a full scale assault. They may have enough human material but such heavy casualties dont fit with their propaganda.

US airpower will force them to fight a traditional guerilla warfare with a focus on defending their territory, terror (suicide) attacks and smaller assaults (hit and run).

About the Iraqi army performance:

http://warontherocks.com/2014/07/inside-the-collapse-of-the-iraqi-armys-2nd-division/

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Good piece, Wiggum, and still current a year later.

One point: commentators shouldnt overestimate the risks of bad IA behaviour generating 'popular support' for ISIS. Most Iraqi Sunnis understand the da'ish are murderous, unpredictable fanatics -- and also prone to conscripting their young sons -- and are understandably terrified of living under their rule.

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... One key point in the famous essay "Why Arab Armies Lose Wars" is that like most non-Western armies, they lack a skilled and dedicated NCO corps. That would promote discipline and unit cohesion in combat, and let them hold the field long enough to learn that the ISIS forces are largely small infantry cells of hastily trained kids directed by a core of specialists, and are easy enough to trap and kill using elementary tactics and teamwork.

Noncoms in conscript armies are actually the lowest of the low; the conscripts who re-up because they are too dumb or poor to get better jobs outside. The cleverer sort become henchmen to officers and share in their corruption, but any competence at soldiering is purely incidental; it's not what they are rewarded for.

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Speaking of which... On Thursday, a BA flight from Heathrow to Las Vegas turned back for an unspecified medical emergency. Usually, the flight is either resumed later or passengers put on another aircraft. But, in this case it was cancelled. Normally, this is newsworthy. However, it's hard to find any info online about this incident. Also, several hundred troops deployed to Heathrow. Wondered if it was Ebola related, and info suppressed. Just curious if anyone in UK saw any news about it.

Quote from the Daily Mail (TBH not the best source...) In saying that no sign of it in other UK media/press.

 

Hundreds of soldiers were drafted in to provide extra security at Heathrow Airport today amid fears of a terrorist attack.

Troops with armoured cars moved in to one of the world's busiest international airports at 6am as part of a "contingency plan" authorised by the Government and Scotland Yard.

They said the "precautionary" move, involving 450 troops, was linked to apparent concerns that al Qaida could use the end of the Muslim festival of Eid, which runs from tomorrow until Saturday, as a trigger for an attack on London.

The operation was believed to be linked to specific intelligence of a threat to Heathrow.

Security was also beefed up at key, unspecified potential targets linked to London's transport and economic infrastructure.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-160010/400-soldiers-patrol-Heathrow-amid-terror-fears.html#ixzz3byW0NYl0 

 

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Seeing them on there technical s - with lots of them with big calibre machine guns

they remind me of a rapid moving SAS WW2 patrol / strike force 

I think there mobility helps in the desert areas

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The whole thing about ISIS tactical skills is overblown and mostly their own propaganda.

Yes, they have a core of very skilled fighters but the Shia militias, Hezbollah and the Peshmergas have them too.

They excel their foes in two fields, logistics and recruitment.

They dont need to have "better" fighters, they just need to be able to mass fighters, vehicles and supporting weapons at the right time at the right place.

They need to be able to have a steady flow of supplies and the ability to hide cells of fighters within enemy held town.

They need to have the logistic capability to supply fighters who infiltrated enemy territory.

Then, most importantly they need to be able to compensate their looses. Its already clear that they are currently able to do that.

The flow of foreign fighters is still there and they seem to conscript young men and even children.

If you look at how they take territory they mostly use shock tactics, striking with simultaneous SVBIED attacks and activating "terror" cells that have infiltrated behind enemy lines.

Then, after they took the territory they lay IED's everywhere and leave a bunch of fighters there that are ready to die while fighting a delaying or "last stand" action while they pull out their main force.

Anyway, as long as the middle east is full of surplus young men without the perspective to gain acceptable positions within society there will be war/civil-war.

If you look at the birth rates some countries are already on the right way and should be much more peaceful in 25-50 year.

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Well said, Wigs. ISIS skills in infiltration and appearing where least expected (plus their fanaticism) are also reminiscent of the 1942 era Japanese army, although I wouldn't wish to push that analogy too far.

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