Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Blaster: Stalingrad on the Tigris: The Kobani Model Writ Large?

Mosul, Iraq
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. They're gonna retake the Sunni/ISIS stronghold with the US trained, thoroughly corrupt (if I give you my salary can I go home?) Shia/Iraqi Army that collapsed last year in the face of a few thousand ISIS irregular troops? - uh huh.   - George Conk
The Blaster: Stalingrad on the Tigris: The Kobani Model Writ Large?
by Chuck Spinney
"Last summer, in a scene reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia, the 350,000 man Iraqi army, trained and armed at an expense of $25 billion over a 10 year period by the US, collapsed in a few short weeks after being blitzed by a few thousand, lightly armed, fast moving ISIS irregulars. The crown jewel in the spectacular ISIS offensive was its capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, on the banks of the River Tigris, 225 miles north of Baghdad.  Subsequent ISIS operations quickly captured most of the inhabited areas north and west of Baghdad (see map). 
 On 19 February, CENTCOM announced plans to retake the city using a rebuilt Iraqi army in alliance with the Kurdish Peshmerga army.  If true, the CENTCOM plan to retake Mosul beggars belief for several reasons:

1. To pull this off, CENTCOM must somehow assemble up to 25,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops opposite Mosul, then drive out the 2,000 ISIS fighters believed to control the city in a large urban battle.  While the Kurdish Peshmerga forces are near Mosul, they cannot take Mosul alone, because a Kurdish attack would drive the Sunni Arabs remaining in Mosul into the arms of ISIS.  For the same reason, Iraqi forces must include Sunnis as well as Shia’s. 
But, the Iraqi forces must march over 225 miles up the Tigris Valley, through ISIS controlled territory, to even reach Mosul.  Such a movement would weaken the forces defending Baghdad and open up the real possibility of ISIS spoiling operations in the south, including attacks on the army’s long exposed lines of communication or even Baghdad itself.  Moreover, how such a power projection and attack by the newly rebuilt and as yet untested Iraqi army could even be launched before the summer heat impedes the massive movement and heavy fighting is a question that boggles the mind."
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