Wargamer “Panzerblitz” Scenario: Shi’ia Army Counterattacks ISIS in Iraq, September 2014
Can’t any of these guys play the game ???
We are all of three months from John McCain and Lindsey Graham calling for America to arm the Syrian rebels. Not one mention of ISIS.
Then we got American Enterprise Institute going all NeoCon with “A plan to save Iraq from ISIS and Iran” from Jack Keane and Danielle Pletka. Here’s the fantasy stuff:
…only the United States can provide the necessary military assistance for Baghdad to beat back our shared enemy.
Setting aside for the moment the question of whether this administration has the will to intervene again in Iraq, here are the components of a reasonable military package that can make a difference:
• Intelligence architecture. Iraq’s intel screens went blank after the U.S. military pulled out in 2011. Washington needs to restore Baghdad’s ability to access national, regional and local intelligence sources, enabling the Iraqi military to gain vital situational awareness.
• Planners and advisers. The Iraqi military needs planners to assist with the defense of Baghdad and the eventual counter-offensive to regain lost territory, as well as advisers down to division level where units are still viable.
• Counterterrorism. Special operations forces should be employed clandestinely to attack high value ISIS targets and leaders in Iraq and Syria.
• Air power. Air power alone cannot win a war, but it can significantly diminish enemy forces and, when used in coordination with ground forces, can exponentially increase the odds of success.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014
Iran is doing all of that. Today.
Air power is 7 SU-25s with pilots. Major General Qassim Suleimani led the effort that freed Tikrit, which is largely a Sunni city, then came over to Samarra. He has been sleeping in the cellar of al-Askari. Both cities now have security perimeters with scale to prevent heavy mortar attacks.
The NeoCons’ “only the United States” concept is about to take a major tumble. Together with seeing the United States-Saudi Arabia alliance and the House of Saud-House of Bush conjunction go to pieces.
Order of Battle for the Fall Campaign
You don’t see commercial war games that match this Shi’ia vs. Sunni action.
General Suleimani’s Army will have 500,000 militia suitable for holding strong points. Another 200,000 reliable Iraqi soldiers with combined Persian and Iraqi officers. And 50,000 Qods Force commandos. Their equipment will include 400 tanks, 600 field artillery pieces, and the usual assortments of heavy and light mortars, and guns. Logistics will rely on truck convoys. Air support includes the dozen SU-25s, another 200 helicopters with on-board guns, and drones to provide GPS locators on artillery targets.
Caliph Baghdadi’s force looks to be 15,000 Sunni irregulars. They have 120mm mortars, a few howitzers, RPGs, and small arms. The al-Anbar Baathists are reported to have provided an assortment of field artillery. But effective use of artillery in a battle scenario requires years of training.
Next thing, apply this match-up to the venerable “Panzerblitz” wargame system. This is the board game developed by Jim Donnelly in 1970. It is the seminal pattern for modern war-based civilian board games.
This is not an easy task: the scenario for September has a 50:1 manpower advantage for the General. How do you set up an interesting battle at those odds?
They can run. But they can’t hide. Here’s a set of “Rule” elements for success playing The General:
Give it another 2 months. Time for ISIS to kidnap, extort, steal, murder their way through Sunni Nineveh Province. The Iraqi Sunnis in Nineveh will tire of them quickly enough. Then the General’s 750,000 man army will have the option of creating a Paradise of battle.
- Seal off the Syrian border. Same for Jordan
- As ISIS takes no prisoners, take no prisoners
- If Fallujah and Ramadi support ISIS then flatten them
- Destroy or disable every private automobile and light truck in al-Anbar and Nineveh
- Commandeer the heavy trucks and use them to move food and fuel
- Where local militias choose combat, kill them
Do it all and you win. Get to four out of six and you’re competent. But you have to get #1 to meet the fundamental eradication objective.
Regimes all over MENA sent their Sunni psychopaths to Syria. That’s been going on for three years when the Syrian drought knocked the country into severe difficulties. The aim was to knock off the Shi’ia Assads. Then it got out of hand.
So now the Sunnis are looking at a Shi’ia Crescent that stretches from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus. Iraq’s Sunnis become a minority with no political power, treated better than al-Maliki jas been treating them. But utterly powerless. And the local Army of God forces in Lebanon and Iraq will have been blooded by fighting the ISIS mad dogs — an invaluable set of lessons.
The Americans ???
Either they have not seen war. Or they flew over it. Or they read classified reports. And they sent troops into battle in Iraq without teaching the men Arabic first, which General Suleimani and Qods Force would never do.
Welcome to the Middle East ???
The scorpion and the turtle ?
Not exactly. Read the chapters of Manchester’s book “American Caesar” that depict Douglas MacArthur during World War I. That is how General Suleimani fought the Iranians in the 1980s — doing his own night recon missions, for one — and how he is fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He is 57.
The Sykes-Picot treaty lines that define Iraq and Syria and deny Kurdistan are about to be redrawn. Expect Syria and Iraq to merge for self protection with Kurdistan getting Kirkuk and independence for opening a strong Second Front against ISIS. The merger concept can work, but only after the General takes his army north to the Turkish border and wheels west to the left to meet the Assads in Damascus.
For a continuing expansion on these themes:
Don’t expect to see much of this in the corporatist outlets. Or from the politicians. They don’t know how these games are played, not at all.