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.

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.

Can Russia even afford its new tough-guy image?

The New York Times had an excellent article yesterday: “As Putin Talks More Missiles and Might, Cost Tells Another Story.”

Here were some of the major highlights from the story:

  • “Everybody should understand that we are living in a totally different world than two years ago,” said Alexander M. Golts, an independent Russian military analyst. “In that world, which we lost, it was possible to organize your security with treaties, with mutual-trust measures,” he said. “Now we have come to an absolutely different situation, where the general way to ensure your security is military deterrence.”
  • Russia feels alone and besieged, a sentiment that continuously provides fresh inspiration to overhaul a military once better known for the drunk, ill-equipped conscripts who fared so badly during two wars in Chechnya in the 1990s.  “The Russian Army is returning to normal combat activities and training,” said Igor Korotchenko, the editor in chief of National Defense, a monthly Russian magazine. “We are doing exactly what our Western partners are doing.”
  • “Russia has been making aggressive statements, insisting that it lives in a world of mutual military deterrence, while thinking that the West will not pay attention,” Mr. Golts said. But the West paid attention, he said, and Russia is not ready. It is one thing to use a force of up to 100,000 well-trained, well-booted soldiers to seize Crimea or even to destabilize a neighbor, but it is a very different matter to take on NATO, he noted. Russia, lacking both the manpower and the weapons systems, will not be ready to do so any time soon, which is why Mr. Putin resorts to asymmetrical responses like nuclear weapons, analysts said.

The article goes on to discuss new tanks, whose orders have already been reduced. So, too, fighter jets, such as the T-50.

One thing the article didn’t discuss, which I thought it should, was a comparison of the two economies, America and Russia, side-by-side.

Here are those figures (from Wikipedia):

  • GDP: United States equals $17.4 trillion.
  • GDP: Russia equals $1.8 trillion.

And here are military expenditures (from Wikipedia):

  • U.S. $581 billion.
  • Russia $70 billion.
  • (Also worth noting that China’s is $129 billion.)

You can click either Wikipedia link above to compare other countries. For instance, one interesting thing is that I had no idea that the U.K. has a much larger GDP than Russia.

Yes, the U.K. Crazy, right?

Anyway, I continue to think Putin will bluster and talk loud and maybe do a few stupid things, but in the end, he has to know he can’t truly bully NATO and the United States. Not once he seriously forces the usually slow to act American people and Congress to act. Just ask the Germans and the Japanese.

Fact is, we typically arrive late to the party, but we bring the Suburban loaded with all our rich, drunk friends. And I don’t care who you are, you really don’t want us showing up to the party, because we’re going to wreck the place… : )

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 things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

The two biggest travesties of our 2003 invasion of Iraq.

I think there’s a chance I’ve come across some facts that just boggle the imagination regarding our invasion of Iraq.

Since this is potentially a controversial post, I feel the need to explain how I got here. It began with me noticing Iran’s far-stronger influence in the Middle East of late, and the explosion of violence between Sunni and Shia in several different countries. (None of this is news to my devoted readers.)

But what caused my head to nearly explode was when I stumbled upon a single sentence written back in the early ’90s. I was reading Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf’s autobiography recently, “It Doesn’t Take a Hero,” when I came across this paragraph:

“Though no one had told us, ‘We don’t want you to destroy Iraq as a nation,’ my assumption in directing the planners had been that the United States would continue to need Iraq as a regional counterbalance to Iran.” — From Chapter 17.

Think of that. This book was published on Nov. 1, 1992. Thus, we knew in the ’90s — long before the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam — that Iraq was needed as a counter to our most dangerous regional enemy: Iran.

Furthermore, one of the big rationales for the current invasion was to set up a democracy. The only problem with this concept is the solid majority of Iraq is Shia. Likewise, Iran is Shia. This isn’t rocket science. It’s 9th grade geography.

So, we should have known going in that if we established a democracy in Iraq, we’ve created a Shia state. A huge one, which happens to be adjacent to Iran.

That consequence alone — practically doubling Iran’s power and reach — should have given us serious pause. It should have been known and understood by our strategists.

I have no idea how this was somehow overlooked or ignored, but that’s not all that’s been troubling me of late.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. Because of where Iraq is situated, it served as a buffer for one of the most important borders of Shia and Sunni civilization. Consequently, when we toppled the country’s strong man (Saddam), we set up the perfect situation for a massive regional war between Shias and Sunnis. That regional war has been spreading like wildfire, as everyone now knows, with Shia Iran supporting Shia fighters and the Sunni Saudi Arabia (and other Sunni countries) supporting Sunni fighters.

Now you might say, “But, Stan, who could have known how ugly that would get? How could we have known that religious fighting would spread from Iraq to Syria to Yemen to pretty much you name it in the Middle East?”

But I’d argue that this religious divide, and it’s subsequent clashes (see video below), began 1,400 years ago, and surely someone at the CIA — probably a lot of someones — tried to highlight this fact to the Bush Administration. (If they did, I really want to know this. And if they didn’t, I even more want to know this.)

So, in summary, let’s ignore all of the regular arguments on this issue. Forget arguments about WMD, oil paying for the war, being welcomed as liberators, etc. I can understand how we got much of that wrong.

But, what I want to know is how in the world our leaders overlooked these two potential problems, which seem incredibly simple and easy to see:

  1. That Iraq could become a second state strongly allied with Iran. (And how this would hardly be a good thing for us, Israel, or our long-time ally Saudi Arabia.)
  2. And that toppling Saddam could lead to an ferociously large civil war between Shias and Sunnis. One that will probably rage for years and years and kill (and displace) who knows how many  hundreds of thousands.

We’re already dealing with these consequences, and they’re already getting worse.

Now, we’ve got Russia arming Iran with anti-air missiles and conflict exploding across the Middle East faster than a wildfire with a strong wind behind its back. Iran is ascending and the rest of the Middle East is worried about this growing tiger in their midst.

It’s my strong suspicion that history will want to know how we overlooked these two potential problems, which we should have known.

So, please, dear readers, tell me where I’m wrong on this and what I’m unfairly overlooking.

Oh, and here’s a super short video on the Shia-Sunni divide:

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 a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You should really consider buying this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way. It’s absolutely changed my life for the better.

Russia Plans Spring Offensive in Ukraine, Warns Gen. Wesley Clark

General Wesley Clark says Russia will attack again soon as part of a Spring offensive, and he’s arguing America should approve military assistance immediately.

Below is the article link and it’s definitely worth a read. Both (in my opinion) informative and persuasive.

Russia Plans Spring Offensive in Ukraine, Warns Ex-NATO Chief Wesley Clark

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 a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

P.S. You’re nuts if you don’t buy this book: The Shaolin Workout: 28 Days to Transforming Your Body and Soul the Warrior’s Way.

Putin turns up his special war against Europe

If you’re of the mindset that the threat of continued/increased Russian aggression is real, here’s an article that should give you some pause: Putin turns up his special war against Europe.

The strongest line from the article is a quote from a linked news article that reads:

“There are hundreds of Russian intelligence officers around Europe and the West. They violate our territory every day … We see Russian intelligence operations in Sweden—we can’t interpret this in any other way—as preparation for military operations against Sweden.”

Of course, that’s a really strong statement, stated by a Swedish Security Service member. (Whose job it is to be super paranoid and worried.)

Personally, I keep fluctuating in my views. On the one hand, our weak counter-moves seem to encourage Putin. On the other, I feel like we’re playing the long game. And in the long game, I see Russia as that really big, fat guy at the bar. Who’s loud. About 50. And weighs three hundred pounds.

Yeah, he can cause trouble. Lots of trouble. And you and your well-dressed friends would rather just ignore the asshole, so that you can spend the night with those fine ladies you’ve either brought or just met.

I still strongly believe what I linked to in February (Russia can’t defeat NATO, but Putin might still try), and the good news is that as more and more countries grow concerned, they take the threat increasingly serious and build up their own forces.

If the loud asshole at the bar just won’t stop terrorizing people, then there comes a time when you stop looking at the babe you’re paying attention to and finally turn toward the sweaty piece of garbage causing all the problems.

Increasingly, I think the countries of Europe, NATO, and certainly our own are starting to stare down the guy and roll up their sleeves. And that’s a good thing.

— UPDATE 3:44 p.m. —

An old 2nd Cav trooper pointed out this article from CNN (regarding ramping up the pressure): U.S. Army sending armored convoy 1,100 miles through Europe.

Also noted in the article is the movement of:

“12 A-10 Thunderbolt “tankbuster” attack jets to an air base in Germany … (and) the placing of hundreds of tanks and military vehicles in Latvia, where they’ll soon be matched up with 3,000 troops from Fort Stewart, Georgia.”

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 a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.

Russia can’t defeat NATO, but Putin might still try

Of late, there’s been an increasing amount of concern about what Russia and President Putin are up to in Ukraine.

The Administration has decided it’s time to stand a little firmer, it seems. We’ve now decided to send US troops to Ukraine to give medical training, and we just paraded US military vehicles 300 yards from the Russian border.

The tension is certainly concerning, especially with Russian overflights and constant hyping by our media.

Nonetheless, this article below is the best I’ve seen yet about the situation. It’s easy to get worried and panicked by the non-stop news of that terribly scary Putin, but this article provides a great reality check from an expert at the Naval War College, who’s got quite a background in Russian studies.

Russia can’t defeat NATO — but Putin might still try. (Also interesting is the link inside the article that leads to a Russian article, which I hit the “translate” button and read. That article describes what a poor job Russia has done at updating its weaponry, from tanks to artillery to air power.)

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 a guy who spent 10+ years writing every day in the newspaper business. Please consider subscribing for email alerts — I mostly post about things American foreign policy, national security, and all things Marine Corps.