How ISIS fights and how it can be defeated

Metin Turcan writes: A typical IS operation goes like this: An IS armored unit of tanks or a mobile unit of eight to 12 fighters with two to three vehicles are informed by WhatsApp, a message on Facebook or Twitter or phone text message, and if this mode is not available through their own radio net, to assemble at a certain place at a certain time. This is the first time we are seeing combat units making use of social media in combat operations. Before its operations, IS disseminates propaganda messages via social media to enemy fighters and civilians living in the targeted urban settlements to demoralize and dishearten them. IS operations and logistics units that are thus alerted assemble at a meeting point within two to three hours, and after another 1 ½ hours of coordination discussions and logistics preparations the operation is underway.

One must remember that a regular IS tank driver is trained to drive his tank at night with a thermal camera, and that the commander of the team has enough tactical military knowledge to best deploy his tanks. Then it is a matter of attacking the enemy’s weakest point, preferably after the morning prayers. Vehicles stage the first phase of the attacks, followed by infantry attacks that depend on the nature of the enemy’s opposition. In these attacks, IS has been remarkably successful in creating a balance between the phased campaign design and maintaining the tempo of warfare. The high tempo of combat is routine for an IS fighter, but usually too high for opposing soldiers.

How to first stop IS and then defeat it? The secret is in a concept that has so far been lacking the forces fighting IS in Syria and Iraq: Close air support that can only be provided by intense cooperation between ground troops and air units. Coalition air attacks so far are at least limiting IS advances; close cooperation between ground forces and armed helicopters such as AH-64 or fixed-wing platforms such as A-10 Thunderbolts can enable full integration of each air mission with fire and movement of ground forces, and bring the end to IS. [Continue reading…]

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