The pressure on ISIS builds

The war against ISIS is ramping up, following the Paris attacks.

Politico published a great article about how the French, while militarily small, definitely know how to fight. The article discusses recent wars the French have launched and how the French are not at all opposed to very risky operations.

This includes airborne operations, going in with ad hoc units even if outnumbered, and operating with insufficient water and medical supplies. Great article if you a moment: The French Way of War. Bet on it: Hollande’s counterattack against the terrorists is going to hurt them.

I also came across a great article describing how AC-130 Gunships and A-10s destroyed 116 ISIS fuel trucks over the weekend. ISIS reportedly has about 1,000 fuel trucks, so this was a serious blow for a single weekend.

From the article:

“This part of Tidal Wave II is designed to attack the distribution component of ISIL’s oil smuggling operation and degrade their capacity to fund their military operations.”- Colonel Steven H. Warren

Targeting fuel trucks used to be off limits because of the civilians operating them, but shortly after the Paris terrorist attacks the rules of engagement changed.

Interestingly, we dropped leaflets one hour prior to the strike warning the drivers to get away from the vehicles, and believe it or not, I’m more than okay with this. I think there’s a good chance many were pressured or forced into driving for ISIS. (Read the comments at the bottom of the article for some of the great pros and cons of this.

Finally, Russia pounded ISIS for perhaps the first time with a massive bombing raid. This short article shows the enormity of what Russia pulled off, and it’s nice to see them pounding ISIS instead of rebels fighting Assad.

Equally nice, they coordinated with the U.S. prior to the strikes. I’m glad to see Putin coming back into the fold some, though it could be mere connivign on his part. Only time with tell.

Regardless of the true or not-so-true implications of possible improving Russia/U.S/world relations, it seems abundantly clear that it’s been a rough few days for ISIS.

And I don’t see this changing any time soon.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 50 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to this blog.

An excellent, short summary of how Syria fell into civil war

Hey guys,

I apologize for the lack of posts of late. Was buried on a book deadline and that took a couple of weeks to recover from. Then, with all the presidential primary ugliness, I found myself just sick and tired of all the politics regarding foreign policy and nearly everything else.

Have I mentioned lately how much I despise how politics so badly divide us? Or maybe it’s political parties? Or maybe it’s the media? Or maybe it’s politicians with egos that are far too big? Or maybe it’s that we all shoot off our mouths too quickly (and too sharply)?

Regardless, I get sick of it all, and when I do I go hermit mode and try to stay away from it all. And that unfortunately means I blog less.

Having said all that, I thought I’d try to get back up on the horse. With the Paris attacks just days ago, it seemed a good time to remind people how we got where we are.

I thought this was an excellent, short summary of how Syria fell into chaos and civil war.

Oh, and I noticed there were several of you who were not on my regular mailing list for my primary author site (stanrmitchell.com), so for those who don’t know, I published the third book in the Nick Woods series. It’s called Afghan Storm and you can find more info about it at the link.

Thanks, everyone! Keep your heads on a swivel and stay alert out there.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About meStan R. Mitchell writes some of the most action-packed, fast-moving gunfighter novels around. Tired of slow-paced, investigative novels that take 300 pages to excite you? Look no further! Stan is the best-selling author of 5 novels in 3 different time periods. He’s also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and a former journalist who spent ten years in the newspaper business, learning how to hook the reader, cut out the filler, and just tell the story. In short, Stan is knowledgeable, he’s fast, and his books will blow you away. Don’t forget to subscribe for email alerts to this blog.

Some good ideas for a U.S. strategy in Syria?

I really liked some of the ideas retired Army Gen. David Petraeus offered up for Syria.

With the refugee crisis, continued power of ISIS, and arrival of Russian troops, it’s time we do something.

Here were some of his ideas from the article:

In Syria, he said, the United States must commit to protect civilians and rebel forces from Syrian President Bashar Assad, explaining that Assad’s attacks on civilians have “been a principal driver of the radicalization” fueling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and the current refugee crisis.

“Sunni Arabs will not be willing partners against the Islamic State unless we commit to protect them and the broader Syrian population against all enemies, not just ISIS,” he said. “We could, for example, tell Assad that the use of barrel bombs must end — and that if they continue, we will stop the Syrian air force from flying. We have that capability.”

Petraeus also called for the “establishment of enclaves” in Syria “protected by coalition airpower” where a moderate force of Sunni rebels could be supported and where displaced persons could take refuge. He called Syria a “geopolitical Chernobyl,” saying the crisis there was “spewing instability and extremism over the region and the rest of the world.”

What do you guys think? And seen any better suggestions?

Oh, and on my last post (Marines seek to keep combat jobs closed to women), you really want to read Old Gyrene’s comment, as well as the response that follows it. The two are worth a post all by themselves. (Here’s the link where it begins.)

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I write military action books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior USMC Sgt with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business — 9 of them with a newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Marine Corps seeks to keep combat jobs closed to women

This is going to be interesting to watch play out: Marines seek to keep combat jobs closed to women.

Essentially, the Marine Corps will be the lone service fighting this battle, and I say battle because I’ll bet this gets ugly before it’s over.

All other services, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, and U.S. Special Operations Command (including the SEALs), have decided women can fight on the frontlines, as long as they meet the standards. As many of you all saw, two women recently graduated Ranger School.

This will be an ugly fight for the Marine Corps. There are huge political implications, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has stated he opposes the argument from the Marines. He feels women should be allowed to compete for any Navy or Marine Corps combat jobs.

One member of Congress who served in the Marines has already called for Mabus’s resignation, because he’s refusing to accept the Marine Corps’s recommendation.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said Mabus should resign because he “openly disrespected the Marine Corps as an institution, and he insulted the competency of Marines by disregarding their professional judgment, their combat experience and their quality of leadership.”

I personally don’t believe this is a fight the Marine Corps can win. The media and vast majority of the public has already made its mind up on this subject. Furthermore, women have shown immense bravery on the battlefield, in everything from helo’s to unarmed trucks that have been ambushed.

Additionally, as more and more technology reaches the front line, the physical aspects required by infantry Marines are going to become less and less important. (Crazy military technology… The end of good war stories?)

I was tempted to cop out and not state my opinion on this, but I know some commenter will probably ask, so I’ll just go ahead and say it. I’m what you would call a moderate on this issue.

Frankly, I think most people don’t have a clue what they’re talking about when they discuss this issue. They haven’t served, carried a pack 18 miles, or qualified with a rifle and iron sights at 500 meters. Nor have they been under fire and shared a fighting hole with someone.

But we all know in America, it doesn’t matter if you know what you’re talking about. It’s a democracy, and everyone has a voice and a vote. (And while too few vote, too many scream, but that’s another subject for another day.)

This is an issue where you can make a super strong argument for why the infantry should only be open to men. I’m not even going to bother to list all the reasons. (As a short guy, who was 5’6″ and 125 pounds after boot camp, I used to think the infantry should only be open to larger men, who were at least 5’8″ or 5’10” and like 170 or something in weight. Because size matters when you’re carrying a ton of gear on a long, forced march. Or trying to fireman carry a simulated wounded guy who weighs 220 with all his gear on. I struggled with these physical tasks and lived in the gym to get my weight up to 145 — and eventually 155 — to try to keep up.)

And yet when I’m honest, I did pretty well, despite being so small and undersized. (Served in the infantry, selected Marine of the Quarter for the entire 2nd Marine Division, picked as Honor Graduate of the Corporal’s Course in December 1998, promoted to sergeant within four years, etc.)

Even having survived four years in the infantry, I once made this argument to a fellow Marine about only larger men being allowed to serve in the infantry. By then, I was a sergeant and certainly had his respect. He was a big infantry Marine, and I expected him to agree with me.

But he didn’t. He named several Marines we both knew who were smaller than me and who were tougher than shit and meaner than hell. You would not want to mess with these guys. (I think it’s called Small Man’s Syndrome.)

And he went on to say, “And, bro, if we went by the height and weight standards that you’re suggesting, Audie Murphy would have never even have served.”

For those who don’t know, Audie Murphy was one of the most decorated soldiers in World War II. He was turned down by the Marine Corps for being too small, and eventually joined the Army, where he earned the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars, and three Purple Hearts.

Okay, I had to concede my friend had a point. Actually a really strong one.

So bottom line, do men have some physical advantages over women? Absolutely. And yet, if you ask, “Do I know some women who are physically capable of outperforming most men?,” the answer is yes.

When I was in, I knew a female MP at Camp Lejeune who benched 300. Few men can do that. I also have a female friend who runs marathons for fun and just joined the Marine Corps to become an officer.

And we all know Ronda Rousey and a huge list of female fighters who spend more time spilling blood each week than I want to even think about spilling in a year. I get beat up and bruised up too much to even think about that, and that’s just from my Isshin-Ryu karate classes.

So I’m certain my fellow warriors in the infantry will call me a sell out, but I’m afraid the writing is on the wall and the facts are pretty clear. The times, the technology, and the strong case made by so many women who have already served valiantly will ultimately defeat the Marine Corps on this decision. It may take years, but this is a battle that I’m afraid is already decided.

But even having said this, I do not believe the standards should be lowered. And by not lowering the standards, you’re ultimately only going to have a very small number of women actually serving in the infantry. (And those who do will probably quickly come to the realization that most male infantry Marines arrive at: this sucks beyond all description and I can’t wait to get out.)

But until that happens, you can expect a lot of hot-headed commentary from both sides. Now, please keep it kind in the comments, and tell me what you think. Thanks!

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me: I write military action books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior USMC Sgt with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business — 9 of them with a newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

ISIS is winning

Politico has a great story running right now: ISIL Is Winning — Fourteen years after terror struck the U.S., our strategy to defeat terrorism is failing.

Unfortunately, it’s a pretty long article that most people will probably find too long to read. As such, I thought I’d cut and paste some key graphs from the article.

At the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it seemed like we had terrorism on the run; Osama bin Laden was dead, the Taliban was defeated and officials like CIA director Leon Panetta had proclaimed al Qaeda all but finished. But as we mark on Friday the 14th anniversary of the devastating attacks on the United States, it’s time to admit that the terrorists—at least one specific branch of terrorists—are now winning. And it’s time to admit that our response to the so-called Islamic State has been an abject failure.

Last year, fighters belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a group once part of the same organization responsible for the 9/11 attacks stormed into Iraq, conquered half that country, declared itself both a state and a Caliphate and set about to slaughter and enslave thousands of Christians, Shi’a, and members of Islamic minority sects. Fifteen months later, ISIL’s influence has spread far beyond the Levant and Mesopotamia. A thousand foreign recruits converge monthly on its operational cynosure. Hailing from some fifty countries they exceed by a factor of ten the average monthly flow of foreign fighters to Iraq at even the height of the war there a decade ago.

ISIL’s international cadre has also far exceeded the number that gravitated to Afghanistan during and the 1980s and 1990s. That growth creates the same conditions—but on a far vaster magnitude—that led to al Qaeda’s rise and the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on 9/11.

The temptation to dismiss these developments as primarily “local” phenomena—confined to the perennially violent, unstable Middle East—is further belied both by the growing number of ISIL branches or “provinces” and its continued efforts to radicalize a worldwide stable of “stay-behind” amateurs, whom the group encourages to carry out low-level, lethal attacks in their respective homelands. To date, ISIL has established bases in at least a half-dozen countries: stretching from West and North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula and from the Sinai to South Asia and the Caucasus. And, over the past year alone, ISIL-inspired homegrown attacks have occurred in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France and Belgium.

ISIL is something the world has never seen before. During the summer of 2014, for example, it launched a battalion-sized assault and defeated 30,000 U.S.-trained Iraqi soldiers. As the defenders fled, they left behind approximately three military divisions’ worth of equipment, including American-made Humvees and M1 Abrams tanks, totaling tens of millions of dollars. ISIL had already seized large stockpiles of weapons, equipment and cash while fighting in Syria and has recently employed chemical weapons on several occasions. The size, weapons and tactics of ISIL forces—combined with their ability to seize and hold terrain—are arguably unique in the annals of terrorism.

We have to accept that Iraq has ceased to exist as a viable federal union and has now permanently splintered into Sunni, Shi’a and Kurdish enclaves. In these circumstances, our best option is to back the only reliable and militarily capable partners we have there—the Kurds. To date, both the Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG or People’s Protection Unit, its Syrian counterparts, are the only local forces who have demonstrated any effective ability to counter ISIL. Yet, American support of both is hamstrung by a misplaced deference to Turkey’s priorities—a NATO ally who has often proven as unhelpful in the war on terrorism in the Levant as Pakistan has been in South Asia.

I’m pretty much an eternal optimist, but even I can’t really dispute the facts of this article.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

About me:  write military action books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior USMC Sgt with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business — 9 of them with a newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Book review of ‘Living in the Shadow: PTSD, and Life Post-Deployment;

I don’t usually share/do book reviews, for a number of reasons, but I’m taking exception on the book “Living in the Shadow: PTSD, and Life Post-Deployment.”

I wanted to share the review I wrote up on Amazon regarding a book that might interest many of you. A guy by the name of Capt. Bocian, who earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart as a part of two tours in Iraq, wrote a hell of a book on PTSD and dealing with the feeling many vets feel after they exit. It’s probably the most honest post-deployment book I’ve ever read.

Here’s my review:

This was an incredible book that nearly every veteran needs to read. The book is a searing, often painful look into living with PTSD, and even vets who didn’t see combat will relate to parts of it. Such as the feeling most of us have that we were “quitters” for getting out.

Captain Bocian provides a book that’s as honest and open as anything I’ve ever read. And he’s also a hell of a writer. Parts of the book are so riveting that they’re scary. (And I’m not even talking about the combat scenes.)

Bocian opens up his soul and shares the things that have helped him deal with PTSD, and even provides a bonus chapter on his thoughts as a veteran who sacrificed so much in Iraq only to see much of it fall into the hands of ISIS.

This is a compelling read that you won’t regret buying.

Semper Fidelis to you, Captain Bocian, and all the other veterans who are struggling with PTSD and post-separation syndrome from having departed the military.

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me:  write military action books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior USMC Sgt with Combat Action Ribbon, and a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business — 9 of them with a newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

More on the F-35

My last post on the F-35 elicited a great comment from a man who’s been there and done that, as far as serving in the military. He’s served in two branches, pulled time with two tours in the infantry in Vietnam, and retired out as a Warrant Officer.

Here’s his comment:

“As far as that “…things change” crap, how about the A-1? It was an old beat up prop job that all the hot-shot jet jockeys (USAF) used to laugh at. Of course, it could loiter over the battlefield for hours, carry a boat load of ordnance, and blow the smack out of the bad guys sitting a few yards in front of your position. Just for grins, there were also documented instances of them going head-to-head with Migs and shooting them down.

“Things change? Not really. The procurement folks are always going to bought off by the Govt contractors, the military are always going to be stuck with the latest gee-whiz crap, and the taxpayers are stuck footing the bill.

“Whoever came up with the “Joint” part of this project pretty well made it bullet proof against cancellation. You’ve got all the services slated to get it, production facilities all over the country, (so lots of senators and congress critters will keep voting regardless of the merits), and lots of lobbyists raking in the big bucks to keep it going.

“I think “Joint” projects go along with “Comprehensive” legislation. You just keep throwing more and more stuff in there and everyone making money on the result is happy.

“The Army’s rotary wing aircraft seems to set a good example. They have a good variety of platforms, each designed for very specific missions. It makes sense to (1) identify the mission, then (2) design the platform. The design, testing, and deployment is much more direct and simple, and KISS is still a valid operating principle.

“Trying to force multiple missions on one platform is a sure recipe for disaster. B-1 Bomber anyone? Billions and billions spent, and obsolete before it was released.”

Keep the faith,

Stan R. Mitchell

Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About me: I’m a full-time, action-fiction author with books similar to Vince Flynn, Stephen Hunter, and Tom Clancy. I’m also a prior infantry Marine with Combat Action Ribbon, and entrepreneur who spent nine years running a weekly newspaper that I started. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.