ChrisWeigant.com

Turning Point Approaching In War Against The Islamic State

[ Posted Monday, May 15th, 2017 – 17:25 PDT ]

The war against the Islamic State, currently being waged (to varying degrees) by the United States, Iraq, Iraqi Kurds, Iran, Syria, Syrian Kurds, Syrian Rebels, Turkey, and Russia is approaching a big turning point. The Islamic State has been steadily losing territory for over a year now, and they're on the brink of losing control over the two most important cities in their self-proclaimed caliphate: Mosul and Raqqa. This could be a death blow to the Islamic State's territorial claims, although the group itself will probably survive as a stateless international terrorist organization (much like Al Qaeda).

This war is both complicated and slow, which are two reasons why Americans haven't been paying much attention to it lately. Military alliances shift as you cross the Syrian/Iraqi border, and Syria is engaged in its own multiyear civil war, of which the fight against the Islamic State is but one part. Complexities abound, which isn't really that surprising for a conflict in the Middle East.

Putting most of those complexities aside, though, when you focus solely on the Islamic State, it's pretty obvious that they're losing, and losing badly. By the end of the year (at the latest), the Islamic State could lose control of all the territory in Iraq they once held. The situation in Syria is much harder to predict, but even there the Islamic State's footprint is definitely shrinking.

While breaking down the progress made so far, it is helpful to refer to three maps. The first map was published in the Washington Post at the real turning point of the struggle to stop the Islamic State's advance and turn it into a retreat. This was published in February of 2015, when Kurdish fighters took control of a section of major roadway in northern Iraq, which heads from Mosul into the Islamic State's Syrian territory. Together with the successful defense of Kobani, a town on the border between Syria and Turkey, this halted the advancing Islamic State blitzkrieg and began the offensive to retake all the territory they had grabbed. The map is useful now to show the maximum extent of the Islamic State's control. In Syria, they controlled a large stretch of the Syrian-Turkish border, allowing a pipeline for foreign fighters to join their cause. They were threatening Aleppo, Hama, and Homs in the western part of Syria as well. In Iraq, they were closing in on Baghdad itself, only miles away from the city limits in multiple directions.

The second map to look at is the Wikipedia tracking map which shows the current state of the war. In Syria, the government forces (Assad's troops) are marked in red, Turkish forces in green, Kurds in yellow, and rebel forces in light green. Islamic State territory is marked in black. In Iraq, Kurds are still marked in yellow and the Islamic State is still black, but the red dots are the Iraqi government forces and the Iranian militias. The third map is an inset of the second, which shows the current state of the battle for Mosul. As you can see, the noose is tightening on the remaining Islamic State fighters there.

 

Iraq

The liberation of Mosul has been a hard slog, but the end is now in sight. Estimating progress is tough in this urban fight, but it now seems that within the next few weeks (by the end of June, at the latest), Islamic State fighters will be completely evicted from the city, captured, or killed.

Mosul was always the crown jewel for the Islamic State -- the biggest city they had ever seized. Initially, the Iraqi army fled the Islamic State fighters, and beat a humiliating and disorganized retreat. This was part of the initial Islamic State tsunami which almost led to fighting within Baghdad. But since the tide began to turn, the Iraqi army forces have had an unbroken string of successes at liberating cities and towns the Islamic State once controlled.

On the large-scale Wikipedia map, you can clearly see the progress that has so far been made. From Baghdad heading west, the following have been retaken: Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, and Ramadi, as well as all the territory extending to the town of Haditha. The Islamic State still controls the border town of Qaim, and a stretch of the Baghdad highway.

From Baghdad heading north, the government forces have retaken Tikrit and the Baiji oil fields, and then they continued north along the highway to Mosul. The Islamic State still controls an "island" of territory around Hawija, and they still control a section south of Sinjar, against the Syrian border. On the outskirts of Mosul, the town of Tal Afar is still in Islamic State hands as well.

The fight to retake Mosul started last October (you can see on the inset map's history list how this fight has progressed). It's been a long, hard slog and it's not over yet, but the end is finally in sight.

Mosul was always partially surrounded by Kurdish-held territory, as the Kurds prevented the Islamic State from advancing all the way to Irbil. Mosul was bordered to the east, north, and northwest by Kurdish territory. Kurds also began to retake territory before the fight for Mosul was launched, by retaking Sinjar and the major road from Mosul into Syria (including retaking the border crossing itself). But the Kurds halted this advance and never pushed very far south of the road or retook the town of Tal Afar from the Islamic State.

This set the stage for the battle for Mosul. Government and militia forces pushed up from the south, retaking town after town on the main Mosul-Baghdad route. They took the key Qayyarah airfield that allowed for air support during the urban fighting ahead. Then they began the push for Mosul itself, from the east and south.

It took months, but eventually this succeeded in taking all the land on the east bank of the Tigris River. The advance then pushed north of the city and retook all territory on that side of the river all the way up to the Kurdish lines.

While this was going on, the Iranian militias (for the most part) threw a cordon around the city's outlying towns to the south and west. They made it all the way to the road to Sinjar, and by doing so totally cut off the Islamic State forces within Mosul itself. The noose had been drawn, and it now would tighten. The militia forces still haven't advanced to Tal Afar, and are instead appear to be waiting for the final fall of Mosul.

The west bank of the Tigris contained the old city, with narrow streets that armored vehicles cannot navigate. This will likely be where the Islamic State forces make their final stand (marked on the inset map as the Prophet Zarzis district of the city). The Iraqi forces pushed up from the south and then worked their way around the outskirts in a clockwise fashion, also leaving the old city for the final fight.

They have almost completed this work. Eventually they'll retake everything but the city center, all the way to the banks of the Tigris. The final siege of the old city may take longer than expected, as the Iraqi forces are trying to avoid as many civilian casualties as they can (after an airstrike that killed many civilians was condemned in the worldwide media). The street-by-street urban warfare will be most intense at the end, in the narrow alleys of the city center.

But although it's been excruciatingly slow, the Iraqi forces have so far won ground consistently, without a major setback. The Islamic State has been on a losing streak in Iraq for over a year. This will be celebrated when Mosul finally is completely liberated, no doubt.

 

Syria

Syria is much more complicated, obviously, since there are so many warring factions it is hard to keep them all straight. This makes it hard to see which Islamic State areas are likely to be retaken by which armies, among other things.

In Syria, the Islamic State has also been losing ground in a major way since their high-water mark. In the north of Syria, the Kurds have been the most successful at resisting and turning back the Islamic State tide. Kurdish fighters have successfully retaken an impressive stretch of the Turkish border, and were only halted in their westward march when Turkey sent troops to deny them any further territory (Turkey considers all the Kurdish fighters to be terrorists, one of the major complications for the United States). The Kurds retook all the borderlands up to Manbij and are now pushing southward towards Raqqa.

Assad's forces have been having more mixed success at retaking Islamic State ground. The government forces have had to retake Palmyra twice now, after they lost control when the Islamic State counterattacked. But, to date, this has been the only victory the Islamic State has managed since the tide turned on them over a year ago. And even this wasn't ultimately successful, when Assad's troops retook the city a second time.

The battle for Raqqa is imminent, however, and it will be the biggest psychological defeat for the Islamic State yet. The city was proclaimed the capital of the new caliphate, so losing it is going to be a propaganda blow against the Islamic State's claims to glory. Coming almost simultaneously with the defeat in Mosul, losing Raqqa will be a one-two punch that (hopefully) the Islamic State will never recover from.

The Kurds have pushed into the outskirts of Raqqa from the north and from the northwest. In preparation for this fight, they have retaken the road heading east from Raqqa, on the north bank of the Euphrates River. They've pushed down the routes from the north, and are now reportedly only a few miles from the city limits. With American help, Kurdish fighters were airlifted in to the area around Tabqa (and the dam nearby), and have now cut off a supply line to Raqqa's west.

This hasn't completely circled Raqqa, but a Mosul-style complete siege probably won't be necessary (Raqqa is smaller than Mosul, for one). Especially considering that last week the U.S. announced it would be sending heavy arms to the Kurdish forces for the fight for Raqqa (Turkey's not happy about this, but it was always pretty obvious geographically that the Kurds would be the only logical force to take Raqqa).

It's anyone's guess how soon the battle for the city actually begins in earnest. The Kurds may wait and continue retaking surrounding towns and territory, or they may elect to just push on into Raqqa within the next few weeks. It also remains to be seen how long it'll take to defeat the Islamic State fighters and retake the whole city.

But at this point it's a pretty safe bet that the Islamic State will indeed be defeated and their hold on Raqqa will end. They'll likely fight hard to keep it because of the symbolism of losing their self-proclaimed capital, but they've been on such a long losing streak that it doesn't seem possible they're going to be successful in defending Raqqa.

Aftermath

If the Islamic State loses both Mosul and Raqqa within a fairly short period of time, it could be the end of their dreams of controlling a territory they call a "caliphate." It probably won't be the end of the Islamic State group, but it will be at least the beginning of the end of their reign of terror over major portions of Iraq and Syria.

This is not to say there won't be further battles to win to completely wrest control of territory currently under Islamic State control. In both Iraq and Syria, there will still be pockets to be cleaned up. This will probably be accomplished in Iraq first.

There will still be four remaining areas of Iraq that will need reconquering, even after Mosul falls. Tal Afar will likely be the first of these to be retaken, as part of the mopping-up of the Mosul operation. There are indications that the militias will also clean out the area south of Sinjar as part of this mopping-up as well. If true, this will leave only two chunks of territory left to reclaim: the area surrounding Hawija, and the border area around Qaim. These will require major offensives, but nothing like the scale of the battle for Mosul. Which is why it is now conceivable that all of these objectives could be completed by the end of this year, denying the Islamic State any remaining foothold within Iraq.

In Syria, the biggest problem is going to be how far the Kurds are willing to push south. Kurds are more interested in fighting for their historic lands, and the remnants of the Islamic State are going to flee far beyond these areas. So at some point the Kurdish fighters may voluntarily decide they've gone far enough, and hunker down to defend the territory they've taken.

This will most likely leave it up to the Syrian government forces to finish the job, and Assad's troops are in the midst of fighting other forces than just the Islamic State. So it remains to be seen whether the government forces have the resources (or the will) to completely finish off the last pockets of the Islamic State. Even if they did sweep all towns held by the Islamic State clean, it's doubtful these areas wouldn't be vulnerable to be retaken when Assad is busy with other battles. So while it looks like the future of the Islamic State in Iraq is about to be ended, they may be able to tenaciously cling to the lands around the town of Deir Ez-Zor and the border towns across from Qaim in Iraq, as well as some other isolated pockets of territory in western Syria.

So it is too soon to say the complete defeat and eradication of the Islamic State is close to being at hand. This won't lessen their upcoming defeats in Mosul and Raqqa, though. The Islamic State was built on the concept of blitzkrieg warfare -- advance so swiftly that your opponent flees in complete disorganization. But this plan only works as long as your forces are advancing. Propaganda victories draw in thousands of foreign fighters only when it looks like you've got a real chance of winning. When it is obvious to the world you are constantly losing ground, nobody's going to want to commit to your cause. This is why the defeat of the Islamic State in both Mosul and Raqqa are so important. Psychologically, it should break the back of the Islamic State's grandiose claims.

Of course, even should the Islamic State be completely eradicated from both Iraq and Syria, that doesn't mean everything will be rosy in either country. To achieve this victory, the Iraqi government allowed Iranian militias to fight the Islamic State, and they've been guilty of so many atrocities in the towns they've taken control of that Iraq could move straight from the war with the Islamic State to a period of civil war. The possibility definitely exists. As for Syria, even if the Islamic State were completely removed from the board, there will still be a multi-army civil war raging, which doesn't seem to have any end in sight.

While all of that is important and concerning, the main objective of the United States military in the region has been defeating and destroying the Islamic State. This has been an overwhelming success, although it has been moving at too slow a pace for most Americans to pay attention. Under both Presidents Obama and Trump, the war plan has not appreciably been different. It has allowed not only for successes against the Islamic State but has also mostly avoided any American troop casualties, since it has relied on airstrikes and advising existing fighters on the ground rather than sending in American frontline ground troops.

All of this is about to be highlighted, in the next few weeks. The media loves big war stories rather than ongoing strategic analyses, and they're about to have two big war victories to focus on. Retaking both Mosul and Raqqa from the Islamic State is going to be a heavy one-two punch that may serve as the biggest psychological defeat they've ever suffered -- one that largely ends the draw for foreign fighters to join them altogether. That would represent a major turning point in the battle against the Islamic State -- both for the military fight and for the "hearts and minds" effort as well.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

32 Comments on “Turning Point Approaching In War Against The Islamic State”

  1. [1] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Program Notes:

    Two notes are necessary. Obviously, this was written while other news was breaking.

    Secondly, I fully admit that previously, I had predicted that the Kurds would take Tal Afar before the battle for Mosul even began. Looks like I blew that prediction, but then I never claimed to be an expert on military tactics.

    -CW

  2. [2] 
    TheStig wrote:

    What I see unfolding is the further balkanization of the old Ottoman Empire post WWI, along more finely parsed ethnic/religious lines. It's hard to envision the old Iraq or Syria emerging as viable states with viable economies in the foreseeable future. The regional power brokers Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia will see to that. None will admit defeat, they will bide their time and have another go. The regionalisms that have been in play for centuries will not go away.

    The Islamic State never engaged in genuine blitzkrieg, they infiltrated Sunni areas who wanted to throw out the central government. The only blitzkrieg-like movements were the national government forces fleeing in reverse to friendly cities and towns. All the fighting to nominally restore government control has been in slow motion, yard by yard for the most part.

    The Obama Admin managed this situation
    (Mess o' Potamia) fairly well, compared to, oh, the Bush 2 admin which envisioned a quick, affordable and permanent solution. Trump is not getting that grandiose... at least not yet.

  3. [3] 
    michale wrote:

    The Islamic State has been steadily losing territory for over a year now, and they're on the brink of losing control over the two most important cities in their self-proclaimed caliphate: Mosul and Raqqa. This could be a death blow to the Islamic State's territorial claims,

    Thank the gods we elected President Trump!! :D

  4. [4] 
    michale wrote:

    The Obama Admin managed this situation
    (Mess o' Potamia) fairly well,

    If you call "ignoring it until it got too big to handle" managing it fairly well, then yes... Odumbo managed the situation "fairly well"... :^/

    We can always ask the victims of terrorism in this country and their families if Odumbo "managed the situation fairly well"...

    I wonder what they would have to say about that...

  5. [5] 
    michale wrote:

    JL,

    Yea.. Apparently, I am back.. :^/ heh

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Since the "Islamic State" had aspirations, it's worth noting that the last Sunni caliphate was Ottoman. It was abolished by Turkish Republic in 1924.

    I would characterize the current pretender as

    supercaliphatalisticexpialidocious

  7. [7] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    While discussing the revelation that Trump may have outed an undercover asset inside ISIS to the Russians, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul made an interesting point: Where does the assumption that Russia wants to defeat ISIS come from? He said that it's dangerous to assume that we're “aligned with them in Syria — that is just not true, including even with ISIS.”

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Like the proprietor of this site, I really like maps. No one map will do...unless you have a GIS system and a staff run it. The 3 maps in this column were excellent choices. I especially like the uncluttered style of The Institute for the Study of War (map one).

    I'm also a huge fan of Google Earth. Roads and watersheds are hugely important in understanding Syria and Iraq.

    CW.com has done excellent job in covering the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

  9. [9] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Balthasar 7

    File it under Loose, Pouty Lips Sink Ships.

  10. [10] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "I had predicted that the Kurds would take Tal Afar before the battle for Mosul even began."

    If you don't blow a few predictions you aren't playing very hard.

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    "I had predicted that the Kurds would take Tal Afar before the battle for Mosul even began."

    If you don't blow a few predictions you aren't playing very hard.

    The Kurds are socially progressive, effective fighters and good administrators. I fear they are going to get screwed in any agreement that involves Turkey.

    Kurds are landlocked. What they really need is a wee slice of Turkey (no pun intended) giving them access to the northeast Mediterranean...and the rest of the world. With that, they could become an Israel.

  12. [12] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Sorry 'bout the dupe in 11. Forgot to empty the cache :(

  13. [13] 
    michale wrote:

    The Kurds are socially progressive, effective fighters and good administrators.

    In conclusion , the experiences of being a homosexual in Kurdistan is also based on which part of Kurdistan that you’re in , but because of the conservative nature of the Middle east(with the exception of Israel) and part of Kurdistan , you’ll always find yourself discriminated for expressing your sexual orientation.
    https://www.quora.com/How-does-it-feel-to-be-a-homosexual-in-Kurdistan

    I know, I know...

    Why let FACTS interfere with a good Progressive fantasy that everyone thinks like you do... :^/

  14. [14] 
    John M wrote:

    Michale wrote:

    "Thank the gods we elected President Trump!! :D"

    REALLY??? A man who now stands accused of giving classified information to the Russians! After for over a year he and conservative Republicans and YOU vilified Hillary Clinton for playing fast and loose with classified e-mails? Now, you have the audacity to praise him????

    I an NO fan of Hillary Clinton, but Trump could now conceivably be charged with committing at least SIX crimes within the space of a week.

    Trump at best is either inept and incompetent to be President or at worst is now openly colluding with the Russians and daring people to take action against him.

  15. [15] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Why let FACTS interfere with a good Progressive fantasy

    You can't expect Kurds to be more progressive than, say, Texans. Nobody expects that, but they're an open, generous people, and are on OUR side in this conflict.

  16. [16] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Ultra conservative blogger Erik Erikson claims that he knows who leaked the news of Trump's security breach, and that it was a Trump loyalist.

    He says that an insecure Trump takes any criticism as a personal attack, so the leaker was trying to send a message through the media.

    "..if the President, through inexperience and ignorance, is jeopardizing our national security and will not take advice or corrective action, what other means are available to get the President to listen and recognize the error of his ways?”

    So, when your own side is calling you ignorant...

  17. [17] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    In conclusion , the experiences of being a homosexual in Kurdistan is also based on which part of Kurdistan that you’re in , but because of the conservative nature of the Middle east(with the exception of Israel) and part of Kurdistan , you’ll always find yourself discriminated for expressing your sexual orientation.

    You could be talking about Christianity if you replaced "Kurdistan" with "the South". So that means that the Kurds are just as progressive as the GOP I guess.

  18. [18] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    "I an NO fan of Hillary Clinton, but Trump could now conceivably be charged with committing at least SIX crimes within the space of a week.

    Not sure if he broke any laws where the Russians are concerned, but he has definitely violated the presidential oath of office.

  19. [19] 
    Kick wrote:

    Finally the Comey paper trail has begun to leak. On 02/14/2017, Donald Trump kicked everyone out of his office with the exception of James Comey. Trump then informed Comey that Flynn had done nothing wrong and that Comey should stop the Russia investigation. Comey left the Oval and wrote one of his famous internal memos.

    Poor Donald... Comey is famous for his paper trails. I'm guessing this is merely trail #1. Happy trails to you! ;)

  20. [20] 
    Kick wrote:

    JL (moved forward)

    Hey, JL, guess who is hosting SNL this coming Saturday. It's none other than The Rock. I hereby demand a skit where Alec Baldwin as Trump opens a door in the Oval Office, and there stands Obama getting mad as hell and turns into The Rock Obama.

    Make it happen SNL! :)

  21. [21] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey gang

    I know this is very off topic since I've never seen it discussed here, but for those who care about what is in our food, and the coopted regulators angle that plays into the politics of both parties, here's a brief update on the Monsanto trial going on in SF... a trial that combines about 30 cases of cancer from the most widely used herbicide in history.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK__WF96F8I

    run time about 7 min

    The discovery process has revealed that Monsanto has hired paid commenters to push the company line in every comment section from corporate media to FB.

    Also a great video clip of a PR hack claiming it is safe to drink Round-Up... and then refusing to when given a chance.

    A

  22. [22] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [2] -

    "Mess O'Potamia" -- OK, that was pretty funny!

    :-)

    michale [3] -

    Allow me to correct that for you: "Thank God Trump didn't screw with President Obama's war plan!"

    There you go!

    :-)

    Seriously, though, I was pretty scrupulously nonpartisan in this column. Look at it through a military strategy-and-tactics filter, not a political one.

    TheStig [8] -

    Well, thank you for the kind words!

    I, too, like maps. I flagged that WashPost map when I first read the article, because it was such a good map. Later on, I realized that it was the best map to show how far IS had ever gotten. It may be a month off in one direction or the other, but it's pretty close to being the high-water mark of the "caliphate." So now it's my go-to "before" map, to show the progress of the counterattack against them.

    TheStig [10] -

    Yeah, I try to at least publicly 'fess up when I do screw up a prediction. Keeps me humble.

    Balthasar [16] -

    Fun conspiracy theory from WashPost comments: maybe Pence is the leaker. Makes all kinds of sense, when you think about it! Heh.

    Kick [19] -

    Yeah, just heard about that myself. Happy trails indeed!

    Also [20], it's going to be a long, hot summer with no new SNL spoofs of Trump to watch... I mean, consider what he's done in his first 4 months...

    -CW

  23. [23] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Oh, forgot to mention, new column up (on Trump's polling)... check it out!

    -CW

  24. [24] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW-22

    ""Mess O'Potamia" -- OK, that was pretty funny!"

    Of course, I stole it from John Stuart!

    http://1.images.comedycentral.com/images/shows/tds/videos/season_11/episode_031/ds_11031_02_nws_v6.jpg?width=1200&height=630&crop=true

  25. [25] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW-22

    A link to the most recent Institute for the Study of War map:

    http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/isis-sanctuary-may-10-2017

    This one uses their ultra clean style, which I really like.

    I've never found a map combining military control with ethnicity.

  26. [26] 
    TheStig wrote:

    7:38 EDST

    Just read evening headlines. Does anybody else get the impression the training wheels have fallen off the Trump Administration bicycle?

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:

    TS
    11

    The Kurds are socially progressive, effective fighters and good administrators.

    Michale
    13

    I know, I know...

    Why let FACTS interfere with a good Progressive fantasy that everyone thinks like you do... :^/

    Michale, you've really outdone yourself here in projecting your fantasy onto someone else's reality and over-inflating someone else's opinions as if they're "FACTS" that somehow prove your ridiculous point. You seem to think that this guy's opinion that you've linked to on Quora actually proves something/anything, and I can't stop laughing at the stunning ignorance of it.

    In your haste to prove that Kurds aren't progressive and that TS is incorrect, did you even bother to read the first sentence of this guy's opinion? Your hero begins: "While I’m not a homosexual and definitely not a Kurdish...." Did you perhaps consider that even if the guy who wrote the opinion at your link was homosexual and/or Kurdish, it's still just his opinion and factual proof of absolutely nothing? Did you perhaps consider the fact that one issue like homosexuality doesn't define an entire group of people... Kurdish or otherwise? Did you perhaps maybe even consider that the term "progressive" is relative to different parts of the world? Those are rhetorical questions, of course, requiring no answer whatsoever.

    The Kurds are progressive relative to their location in the world and their social mores... not yours. *LOL* :)

  28. [28] 
    michale wrote:

    JM,

    REALLY??? A man who now stands accused of giving classified information to the Russians!

    Funny how ya decried and denigrated "anonymous sources" when they were against yer guy, Odumbo..

    NOW that the POTUS has a -R after his name, now ALL OF THE SUDDEN, anonymous sources are golden and speak the gospel.. :D

    THREE respected administration officials put their NAMES on the record as stating it was pure fantasy what WaPoop reported..

    When one of your anonymous sources mans up and goes on the record, then... and ONLY then... will you have an argument to make..

    I an NO fan of Hillary Clinton, but Trump could now conceivably be charged with committing at least SIX crimes within the space of a week.

    Yea, yea yea.. TRUMP IS TOAST

    I have heard it all before... And it *ALWAYS* amounted to nothing..

  29. [29] 
    michale wrote:

    Listen,

    You could be talking about Christianity if you replaced "Kurdistan" with "the South". So that means that the Kurds are just as progressive as the GOP I guess.

    Which, in turn, means that STIG was saying that the Kurds are just as progressive as the GOP..

    Yea, that's kinda my point.. :D

    Thanx for backing me up on it.. :D

  30. [30] 
    michale wrote:

    Yea, yea yea.. TRUMP IS TOAST

    I have heard it all before... And it *ALWAYS* amounted to nothing..

    But THIS time it's gonna happen!!!

    Right?? :D hehehehehehehe

  31. [31] 
    michale wrote:

    Allow me to correct that for you: "Thank God Trump didn't screw with President Obama's war plan!"

    You mean Obama's LEAD FROM BEHIND AKA THE COWARD OF THE COUNTRY plan??? A plan GREAT for "JV" players and actors that are "contained"...

    Yea, thank the gods President Trump didn't screw with THAT plan, just threw it in the garbage where it belongs.....

    Seriously, though, I was pretty scrupulously nonpartisan in this column. Look at it through a military strategy-and-tactics filter, not a political one.

    Yes, credit where credit is due... You do ignore political correctness in military oriented commentary... Troo 'nuff...

  32. [32] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    michale -

    Note from the article: the battle for Mosul started in October of last year.

    That's the Obama plan I was referring to. The one they've been using since that first map, to retake city after city in Iraq.

    Don't get me wrong, I give full credit to Trump for not screwing with the plan at all. And the fullest credit for the guys in the Pentagon who came up with it. It's not "Obama's plan" so much as "the war plan the generals came up with," in other words. Does that make it better?

    -CW

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