An analysis of what ISIS really means for the defence of the United Kingdom and what our response should be
A quote to start
There’s no problem we can’t ignore if we really put our mind to it
Has the world really shifted to any degree that affects the UK?
I will set out my store here and say I can see no obvious way that it has.
We have in the UK, for whatever reason a small number of young Muslim men who feel that the society in which they have been raised, and in many case born, has nothing to offer them: – and needs to be overthrown and replaced by the medievalist creed of Wahhabi Islam.
That overthrow is best accomplished by terror.
There are a somewhat larger number of young men from that background who believe that the secular democratic, or Christian west, is intent on controlling or in some way doing Muslims and Muslim nations down. As a result, it is the duty of all Muslims to take up arms in those states that are so threatened; in order to ‘protect’ them form the influence of the west and it’s (in their eyes) treacherous Muslim allies who have turned from the true faith.
The Syria/ Iraq situation does not change that. These two groups existed before the first shots were fired in Syria, and will exist after the ISIS flood has gone the way of all ‘supper-hot ideological flaming revolutions; and broken down into recrimination and compromise. (Although it may re draw the map in the process)
Any members of the two groups who wanted to get their religious fervour stoked could do so in any number of safe havens – Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, for example.
Accompanied with obligatory AK 47 based tuition.
The existence of an Islamic republic trans Syrian and Iraqi borders does not IMHO change that.
Does this increase the ‘internal’ threat to the UK?
Not sure it does.
We know that in all of the countries where there is significant Muslim fundamentalist struggle, there are (or at least are rumours of) UK citizens involved.
Are Jihadis from the UK more likely to return to the UK from a Caliphate and transfer from the 2nd of the above groups to the 1st than if they come home from Afghanistan or Somalia?
As to how to fix them, any student of early modern history can see the parallels with the rise of militant Protestantism in the 1500’s; and the key to beating the Muslim fundamentalists is the same sort of restrictive policies about preaching etc that were adopted at the time. But that is not a defence issue it is a law and order and social policy one.
What are the defence issues?
Not sure I see any, so what if the map of the middle-east is re drawn and Iraq fragments into 3 parts, so what if northern Syria melts into one of those 3 parts to form a caliphate.
Where is our interest?
What strategic issues arise for us from that?
Just what we can our conventional forces do about it anyway?
As far as I can see the square route of bugger all.
Just about as far from the sea as you can get. Real non-starter.
Outside of some special-forces activities tied into the next point nothing much.
We trained and helped equip The Large, Well Trained, Well led, Well motivated Iraqi Army (TLWTWLWMIA) for short. That’s the army that we left behind, and we were assured by previous and currently serving Snr officers and officials, before we withdrew having accomplished our mission of leaving a stable Iraq behind; could well handle the job.
That is TLWTWLWMIA that in effect melted away, or ran off so fast there was a small supersonic pop as its vehicles flew past at the first sign of a pick-up truck with a beardy bloke in it.
I doubt us or the US will repeat the tactic.
Any real numbers of UK troops in the ground?
Amazon will be urgently despatching ice skates to :-
Mr B,E Lzbub
1 Inferno Terrace
Before that happens.
The Air force?
Well there is scope for targeted UAV and even Tornado strikes if basing can be agreed. (And ok on the ‘me too!’ scale I am sure that a sub somewhere will get to fire some Tomahawks to make it feel better). But Bombing Iraq has not really accomplished much since WW1.
But it is the most likely option of any.
Of course all this can and will be accomplished by the US without us but for the sake of standing next to our allies we might get to blow some shit up somewhere.
So in reality, as often these days, the nature of the threat we face is not going to be ‘dealable’ with by FRES, QEC, T26, or F35.
Nor will ‘force structures’ etc affect it much.
In effect ‘chillax’ chaps it will all sort itself out and if it does not well that’s the local’s problem.
Apart that is from our home grown ‘Fundi Jundies who we will have to deal with by other means, and I do not see that as a defence issue.