Islamic State Militants Attack/Seize Iraqi Town Of al Baghdadi — Just A Few Miles From Where U.S. Marines Are Deployed/Training Iraqi Soldiers — Probe To Assess Weaknesses/Vulnerabilities? Precursor To Bigger Attack?
Reuters News Agency, among other news and wire services, reported overnight that “Islamic State militants had overrun much of the Iraqi town/district of al-Baghdadi; and, controlled as much as ninety percent of the town,” according to one Iraqi official. “There was no direct attack on the al Assad Air Base where 300 U.S. Marines are based],” DoD spokeswoman told Fox News this morning – February 13, 2015.” The al Assad Air Base is about a 13-minute drive from the town/district limits, according to Reuters. Reuters had reported, according to unnamed officials, “a group of insurgents did attack the well fortified base; but, failed to break in. Reuters added that “the militants attacked the town, from two different directions — before advancing inward.”
“It bears watching,” retired Col. Thomas Lynch, a National Defense University Fellow,” told Fox News, regarding this incident. “But, for the fighters to pose a [real] threat to the air base, they’d have to get through the perimeter. While that’s not impossible,” Lynch added, “to do it they would have to amass a large numbers of fighters — which would make them vulnerable to air strikes.”
There are a couple of ways to look and understand this attack; and, what the ultimate motive was — for the Islamic State. First, the Islamic State knew that the attack against the U.S Marine outpost was suicidal at this point; but, just the mere fact that they attacked; and, took the fight to the enemy — shows bravado, and has no doubt already shown a positive propaganda value — as the organization flouts the fact that they ‘attacked’ the the equivalent of Satan — in their warped minds.
But, this attack could also be part of a larger strategy/campaign, aimed at probing the vulnerabilities, and weaknesses of the Marine outpost; as the group assess what went wrong, what went right; and, what might be a more successful attack — down the road. This is a time-honored practice among insurgents, and adversaries that are weaker in all aspects of their combat might — so, they use the “dying from a thousand cuts,” strategy in the hopes of wearing down their opponent; and. also hoping to erode public support that the adversary may have at home Short ‘harassment,’ quick in and out attacks on U.S. outposts; and, then just as quickly disappearing, became a staple of The Viet Cong playbook. Their commanders placed a great deal of emphasis on learning from their mistakes; and, stressed adaptability — in an effort to improve their battle techniques — and, inflict maximum damage on their opponents. In one of the more famous quotations an exchanges from the Vietnam War, Ho Chi Minh was confronted by a U.S. Army Colonel at the Paris Peace Talks at the conclusion of the war. The U.S. Army Colonel famously remarked to Ho Chi Minh something to the effect, “you know you guys never won a single battle over us [Americans.] Without missing a ‘beat,’ Ho Chi Minh responded, “while that may be true — is it is also irrelevant.”
Obviously, the dense jungle terrain of Vietnam made ‘disappearing’ much easier to do in that conflict; but, one would expect the Islamic State to seek other ways — digging tunnels underground — to both disappear; and, hope to succeed in digging underneath these kind of outposts. Utilizing tunnels is a time-honored practice in the Middle East, as the adversary adapts to the environment and terrain that they are confronted with. If they can’t do a Beirut, Lebanon, Marine Barracks-type truck bomb on the surface; they may well seek to tunnel underneath U.S. and Iraqi positions — as an alternative above ground. This technique is easier said than done; and there are new sensors and technologies that can help early discovery of such an effort; but, one would have to assume that the Islamic State is exploring all options — to score a ‘spectacular’ hit; which would be a propaganda bonanza for the group — if they were able to pull something like this off.
So, you can bet that the Islamic State took away some lessons-learned from yesterday’s failed breach of the U.S. Marine outpost in Iraq; and, it certainly…..won’t be the last. V/R, RCP