Remember the video of the Iraqi Army fleeing from Ramadi back in May this year? The scene was shocking and rather embarrassing to see a military force not just in retreat, but full-fledged panic mode, leaving equipment dragging behind.
We saw the daytime celebratory parade by ISIS upon entering Ramadi, and my question at the time was, where is American air power? To have an enemy force on the move in the open desert, and then to have them conduct a broad daylight procession was unconscionable.
Am I pleased with the news about the “retaking” of Ramadi? Sure, but it should NEVER have been taken in the first place. And remember, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, asserted the fall of Ramadi wasn’t a big deal. But it was a big deal to the men and women who fought, bled, were wounded, and to the families of those who lost their lives in Ramadi.
But has Ramadi been retaken?
As Fox News reported, “Iraqi government forces scored a major victory when they took control from ISIS of the central government complex in the city of Ramadi on Monday. But even as one Iraqi military spokesperson unequivically said earlier Monday that Ramadi had been “liberated,” the head of Iraqi military operations in Anbar province cautioned against celebrating too early.
“The troops only entered the government complex,” Gen. Ismail al-Mahlawi said. “We can’t say that Ramadi is fully liberated. There are still neighborhoods under their control and there are still pockets of resistance.”
That assessment contradicted Joint Operations Spokesman Brig. Gen. Yahya Rahsool’s statement earlier in the day, that “Yes, the city of Ramadi has been liberated.” Rahsool did subsequently hedge his assertion, however. “The Iraqi counter-terrorism forces have raised the Iraqi flag over the government complex in Anbar,” he said, without noting any other specific land or buildings controlled by Iraqi forces.”
Ok, so what happens next? In military jargon there’s something called “operational tempo,” which means if you have the enemy in retreat and on the run, you press the assault, the attack. The purpose is to crush the enemy’s will to fight and resist, to destroy them — such as what we did to the Iraqi Army on the “Highway of Death” leading out of Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm.
As study of ancient warfare will show, it is in the pursuit phase of an operation where the most casualties are inflicted upon the enemy. So I ask again, what next?
“Retaking” Ramadi is a small tactical victory, and I mean small when one considers the greater global jihadist movement being waged.
Consider the resounding defeat of the U.S. Army in its first engagement against the forces of the Desert Fox, German General Erwin Rommel at Kasserine Pass. A new commander was brought in, General George Patton, and even in the absence of Rommel, Patton defeated the vaunted Afrika Corps — a great victory, but what next?
Then came Sicily, and then came the Anzio landing. You see, in a true dedicated combat operation — a war — you have a campaign plan. That means we went into North Africa in 1942, but we didn’t land in Europe to dislodge the Nazi Army until June 6, 1944. And in a campaign plan there are phases, so what is the next phase after this operation in Ramadi?
If there is no follow-on pursuit of ISIS, then instead of “operational tempo,” we have “operational pause.” And folks, that doesn’t work out well, because it affords the enemy an opportunity to consolidate and reorganize, and they can retake the initiative.
When I was in the Army we had a little saying, “Why do you kick a man when he’s down? Because he’s close to your foot.”
Now of course the liberal progressives reading this will misinterpret what I just said, not understanding the metaphorical meaning. Just as I remember being criticized by the left for my boiling a frog metaphor to demonstrate the concept of socialist incrementalism. Those chuckleheads actually thought I boiled frogs as a kid! The metaphor of kicking a man when he’s down relates to pressing the attack and never letting up on the enemy — which is what General Patton was all about.
Here’s what I think is going to happen next. There will be a victory lap. There will be statements about how great the ISIS strategy is working — funny, many Americans don’t see it that way. If we were kicking the enemy (Islamic jihadists/terrorists), we wouldn’t be hearing about Taliban resurgence and ISIS being “operationally emerging” in Afghanistan. We just had Islamic terror attacks in Nigeria. Don’t forget the recent hotel Islamic terror attack in Mali. ISIS and other jihadist groups have a base of operations established in Libya. ISIS has affiliations as far away as the Philippines.
Yep, there are plenty of high fives and celebrations about the “retaking” of Ramadi. But then again, why do we have a heightened state of alert all across the Western world for the upcoming New Year’s Day?
Politicians do a crappy job of understanding and prosecuting warfare. Why? Because they’ve never had the courage to be on the battlefield. Those of us who have been on the battlefield understand the nuances of tactical victory, but we always keep an eye on the greater strategic impact.
During World War II in the Pacific Theater, we had a resounding tactical victory against the Japanese at Midway Island. We were successful in intercepting Japanese Admiral Yamamoto’s airplane and shot him down from the sky. Those were successes in and of themselves, but by themselves they were not strategic victories that brought forth the end of Imperial Japan.
Ramadi does not a victory against Islamic jihadism and Islamic totalitarianism make. And if we don’t elect a visionary leader who understands campaign planning and strategic objectives, well, we’ll keep winning only small skirmishes.
The liberal progressive acolytes of Obama will say I just cannot give him any credit. Nope, I ain’t, as long as he’s off vacationing in Hawaii, playing golf, and refusing to kick the enemy’s arse. And remember lefties, you can criticize me all you want, but I would NEVER abandon U.S. combat troops to die, and then lie about it.