Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Haiku of OSINT for 09/10/14

Fight Islamic State
Air power will not suffice
Need to send ground troops

Announcing America's New Counter-ISIL Strategy

The CEO of Alfidi Capital paid close attention to tonight's national address articulating a new strategy against ISIL.  Third Eye OSINT stream-of-consciousness reaction to its major points was powered by pure genius.  Stand by for a recap.

Making the case for emerging threats in the MENA region means understanding their sociocultural context.  Radical Islam animates ISIL, pure and simple.  Claiming it is not an authentic Islamic force invites ridicule in the souks of Cairo and Riyadh.  

Citing barbaric tactics and genocide correctly places the threat in a category requiring international response.  This supports international conventions dating back decades and more recent responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine.  

Air strikes are easy against equipment we recognize, i.e. captured US materiel.  The US can quickly exhaust its high-value target list of easily identifiable vehicles.  The harder part is destroying ISIL's very mobile C2 network of bad actors.

I like the word "destroy."  The US must DESTROY any armed force that threatens violence against our homeland, national leadership, or citizens abroad.  The widely-shared photo of someone outside the White House displaying ISIL's flag on a smartphone proves how easily a threat can reach our own C2 nodes.  

The national leadership endorses strikes in Syria.  Terrorists deserve no safe havens.  Training and equipping proxy forces is not as easy as rhetoric makes it sound.  The moderate Syrian opposition is mostly cut off and surrounded in many areas where it was formerly active, according to open source reporting.

I'm pretty sure I could assess Iraqi armed forces' condition from my laptop, using open media.  US advisers knew the condition of the Iraqi partners they trained all throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Western journalists who have covered Iraq since the US troop withdrawal in 2011 knew about the endemic corruption and incompetence in the Iraqi military.  NPR's Fresh Air broadcast today discussed this in detail.  

Excuse me . . how and why are we enlisting Arab nations' help?  Many Gulf sheikhs privately funded Syrian radicals who joined ISIL.  Wealthy Kuwaitis and Qataris were willfully blind to the misuse of donated funds intended for humanitarian projects in Syria.  There's nothing secret there and it's all in open source media.  

Ruling out US ground forces lengthens the time needed for a counteroffensive.  Unready Iraqi forces cannot carry the load until they can reconstitute in safe havens far from ISIL-controlled areas.  This means extensive retraining under American supervision in either Kurdistan or the Shiite south of Iraq.  
Referencing America's economic and scientific strength is obviously intended for a foreign audience, especially the Ebola comment.  Foreign intelligence services will review the inventory of America's aid programs mentioned and ask their American ambassadors how they will benefit by joining this coalition of the willing.  

Ending with "vanquished from the earth" is a good call that articulates a desired end state. The US is in "it to win it" but only with air power for the time being.  Air campaigns against highly mobile urban insurgencies are not effective without ground forces conducting COIN in liberated territory.  US planners will eventually realize the need to introduce competent ground forces.  Active-duty US military members should not make vacation plans for 2015.  

The American response to ISIL's emergent threat was delayed by a politically-driven unwillingness to acknowledge its potency.  Echoes of that unwillingness remained audible in tonight's address.  The National Security Council's mission is to synchronize threat warnings with a whole-of-government response to threats.  Political operatives who supplant foreign policy professionals among NSC staffers are incapable of providing thereat warnings or staffing strong responses.  The tragedy of America's new counter-ISIL policy is that it came long after the threat was obvious.  It is still incomplete without a US ground force option.  

This concludes today's commentary.  Have a nice evening.