--Iraqi Problems, Arend Van Dam
He has knocked the pistol out of his hand
-- small room was there to strive,
"'Twas only by favor of mine," quoth he
"ye rode so long alive:
There was not a rock for twenty mile,
there was not a clump of tree
* * *
- So thou must eat the White Queen's meat, and all her foes are thine,
- And thou must harry thy father's hold for the peace of the Border-line,
- And thou must make a trooper tough and hack thy way to power--
- Belike they will raise thee to Ressaldar when I am hanged in Peshawur
- --The Ballad of East and West,
- Rudyard Kipling
- What we want is more humane killers!
- --How I Won the War (1967)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said you fight the army you have, and the army we had was geared for land combat opposing Soviet Warsaw Pact adversaries.
Our soldiers wore uniforms with shoulder patches, unit patches, helmet patches, flags on their sleeves, fine rifles, sights and individual and unit equipment. Our air and artillery were unequaled, and we kicked ass and took names. We booted the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and later destroyed their army and political system.
In March of '03, the United States invaded in a theatre Army assault with prep fires and an air war that unleashed an impressive fury of World War II proportions, yet we did not win the war, at least not in any strategic sense, adding another one to Korea and Vietnam.
In contrast, the ISIS and ISIL forces are rag-tag, like the Viet Cong, Castro and Mao forces. They lack uniforms, use simple weapons, and their organizational items are captured or simply commandeered from civilians. It is easy to imagine Lawrence of Arabia leading such a rabble group.
ISIS/ISIL forces are successful because:
1) The Shia Iraqi forces lack legitimacy and a broad popular mandate, except for the Shi'ites who repress the Sunni minority. This is democracy as tool of oppression
2) ISIS/ISIL forces have popular support, both active and passive.
3) ISIS/ISIL has safe haven and short lines of communication, with simple plans that are not phased or overly complicated.
4) The ISIS/ISIL forces are strictly following the principles of war [though not the Geneva Conventions (GC's)]
5) They live off the land, gaining momentum daily
6) They enjoy an unlimited pool of replacement fighters
7) They have combat-experienced leaders rather than executive-style corporate managers directing their operations. They do not mistake motion for progress
8) They have nothing to lose, and everything to gain
9) They are ideologically- and religiously-motivated
Though the ISIS attack is the opposite from that of the U.S. forces, it is moving with the same momentum that carried U.S. forces to Baghdad.
Their success shows that the rules of warfare have not changed in several thousand years. Reliance upon distractive theories like "asymmetrical warfare" is smokescreen to hide the fact that the U.S. war machine is struggling to find strategic significance in any of its current actions.