The Sheer Nonsense of Counting ISIS KIA

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I can’t even begin to articulate the sheer nonsense and comedic absurdity of trying to count members of ISIS killed in RAF airstrikes but someone asked.

A recent Freedom of Information Act Request (FOI) asked;

I would like to know what current estimate the Ministry of Defence has made of the number of ISIS combatants killed as a result of UK airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq

The answer;

Number_of_ISIL_combatants_killed_in_RAF_strikes_in_Iraq_September_2014_to_31_August_2015_-_20150911_FOI07143_Upload.pdf_-_2015-11-28_22.38.41 Number_of_ISIL_combatants_killed_in_RAF_strikes_in_Iraq_September_2014_to_31_August_2015_-_20150911_FOI07143_Upload.pdf_-_2015-11-28_22.39.19

It was, of course, caveated with the obvious difficulty of totting them up.

Please be aware that the figures for enemy combatants killed by RAF airstrikes have not been verified because the UK can not visit strike sites and conduct detailed investigations on the ground such that the numbers of deaths can be categorically determined. They are estimated figures only.

So there you go.

328

Perhaps of more relevance is a similar question about sorties and estimated civilian deaths.

Civilian deaths, estimated at ZERO

The next question;

The total number of armed UK Reaper missions that flew into Syria since operations over that country began in 2014.

And the answer;

Reaper aircraft are armed as any mission over Syria is likely to involve flying over Iraq. There have been a total of 196 armed missions (as of 7 October 2015) crossing into Syrian airspace since the RAF started flying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over Syria in 2014. In general one Reaper mission constitutes one aircraft.

Finally, a couple of questions on air strikes in Iraq, the answers;

Number_of_missions_by_RAF_Reaper_and_Tornado_GR4_in_Operation_Shader_August_2014_to_October_2015_-_20151112-FOI2015-08518_Upload.pdf_-_2015-11-28_22.55.49

The above doesn’t include the strike on ‘Jihadi John’, and neither does this

Number_of_missions_by_RAF_Reaper_and_Tornado_GR4_in_Operation_Shader_August_2014_to_October_2015_-_20151112-FOI2015-08518_Upload.pdf_-_2015-11-28_22.57.44

And

Number_of_missions_by_RAF_Reaper_and_Tornado_GR4_in_Operation_Shader_August_2014_to_October_2015_-_20151112-FOI2015-08518_Upload.pdf_-_2015-11-28_22.59.55

More data here, including information on the methods of reporting etc

 

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HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview

Maybe the UK will use tactical nuclear weapons….joking.

Seriously, Daesh HQ is global. You have to spear the ideology and the people and that cannot be shown via simple statistics.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

The flail on Sunday, is reporting that the RAF has only an extra 2 to 4 combat ready Tornados to send to the 8 already in Cyprus. For IS/Daesh to be properly bombed, we would need at least 24. All this huffing & puffing in Parliament over bombing Syria, when our contribution is likely to be token.

ChrisM
ChrisM

According to one of the papers Hollande is begging the UK to start strikes because Brimstone is needed so badly.
Have we not got a brochure and a salesman we can send them?

Challenger
Challenger

@John Hartley

It’s always an exercise in futility to understand just where the hell the mail is coming from.

On this occasion if i had to make an educated guess i’d say they are mixing up the total number of combat ready jets with the number which can be sustained indefinitely.

Perhaps 12 is the upper limit in terms of a long-term presence when taking into account harmony guidelines and the 3 squadron structure of the Tornado fleet. I’d expect a few more to be available for a 3-6 month surge as we saw in Libya, although this of course would further upset the baseline tempo of deployments.

This is why 7 Typhoon squadrons (2 QRA, 5 swing-role) is a very sensible decision. Now we just need them to hurry up and get Brimstone and all the other bells and whistles on the bloody things ASAP!

Rocket Banana

Just stumbled across this: http://militaryaircraft-airbusds.com/Portals/0/Images/Aircraft/OrdersAndDeliveries/AMOrdersDeliveries.pdf

…thought I’d share it with people.

It’s a great example of creative marketing/accounting. Just look at the Typhoon numbers the UK has ordered… even though we’ve stated that we’re capping procurement at 160 due to cost overruns.

Mark
Mark

I don’t remember all this huffing a puffing when the uk was asked to contribute assisting the Americans to hit Afghanistan after September 11th. If France are asking for assistance in destroying training camps ect in Syria then what’s the difference. Even the Germans are apparently willing to sent tornados to assist the operation.

The best outcome is probably to degrade Isis enough to allow Syrian and Iraqi forces to regain the integrity of their borders. That probably means a need to supt the sitting syrian governement.

What are Chinese doing in relation to the issues in Syria or are they just ignoring the region all together.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

Well if Typhoon are to replace Tornado, then we had better order conformal fuel tanks for Tranche 3 RAF Typhoon.

Rocket Banana

Is 31 squadron the only one with Brimstone-ed and RAPTOR-ed Tornados?

I don’t understand my we have so few to send to Akrotiri???

Mark
Mark

U.K. Hasn’t ordered that number of typhoons.

We’ve a Sqn of tornados in cyprus or 1/3 of the force. You could send more but you couldn’t sustain the number over the years it has been going on if you did.

Hohum
Hohum

JH,

Tornado is notoriously short-legged anyway and the RAF has plenty of tanker capacity. Conformal tanks have consequently been stated as being very down the RAF priority list for Typhoon.

Re the DM article, yes its garbled but it would have been in any mainstream UK newspaper, none of them really know what they are talking about. that said, its been known for a while that despite large numbers of Tornado airframes being on the books extracting operational airframes from them is challenging, i suspect its a hangover from the Tornado crew pipeline having been all but wound down to meet the 2010 fleet withdrawal plan. However, its also important to remember that there are currently three Tornado Squadrons, an increase to 12 deployed aircraft would effectively represent an entire squadron deployed. Alongside the Reapers and iSTAR thats still a considerable sustained effort.

IanW
IanW

The difference is that bitter experience has taught Parliament and electorate to be more cautious about the value and impact of military intervention, especially in that neck of the woods.

Challenger
Challenger

@ JH

Would Typhoon’s really need extra fuel tanks to do Cyrpus-Syria?

I guess loiter time might be less than Tornado. 20 Protectors with Brimstones will be a huge boost, although not for another 5 years!

@Mark

8 Tornado’s isn’t a squadron. Do you think deploying 12 would be unsustainable?

Mark
Mark

Challenger

Aircraft numbers deployed do not indicate if a sqn is deployed or not. There maybe more aircraft deployed than 8 in order to generate 8 for operations. Also it is sometimes a requirement to have 2 crews assigned per aircraft for 24h operation which would mean for a 16 crew sqn 8 aircraft are sent.

Rocket Banana

We had just shy of 60 front-line Tornado, 30-odd in sustainment and 10 or 11 in storage only a couple of months ago.

That should “sustain” well over a dozen in theatre!

Challenger
Challenger

UK involvement in Syria clearly isn’t going to be some sort of magic fix.

However if we added our resources to the US/French push then i do believe we could see positive results.

Making communications in and out of Raqqa as difficult as possible, targeting training camps and attempting to seal off the remaining 60 or so mile IS-Turkish border to any movement in or out would be a good starting point.

Containment, quarantine if possible buys us time, but it’ll only be worthwhile if it’s followed up by a war on their financial bloodlines, compromised agreement between the West, Russia and possibly China on the way forwards in terms of Assad and a long-term political settlement and finding a way to get not just Kurdish and Iraqi, but a wider Arab commitment to troops on the ground.

It may not have to be in the hundreds of thousands and it may not have to be for years and years, but someone at some-point is going to have to march in and expatiate these psychotic scumbags.

Anyone who starts referring to Northern Ireland and how it was eventually solved by getting round a table and reaching a peaceful political resolution in a conversation concerning IS is a deluded moron who really doesn’t appreciate the kind of death cult we are dealing with.

Mark
Mark

you could probably send about 40 a/c if you like you just wouldn’t have anyone to fly them

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

During the Cold War, the battle would be near the bases in Germany & when fighting, you would shoot & scoot, not hang around. Now you need to loiter over the battlefield to find the right target, rules of engagement & all that. Now the Turks have shot down a Russian plane, do we want to risk a large, sitting duck, Voyager over the battlefield? These are the reasons why I favour conformal tanks for tranche3 RAF Typhoons.

Observer
Observer

@JH

Use drop tanks. From the numbers above, it’s not like you need huge number of bombs off your wings either.

I’m curious though. Why is 8 “insufficient” and 24 “enough”? By what metric do you measure this? I would think 8, 24 or 2, all that matters is not the numbers but their effect and in this case I doubt even 24 is “sufficient” as there really isn’t a plan for someone to “clean sweep” the area, nor the will or stomach to do the scorched earth near genocidal tactics needed to put an organization to death once and for all. No Massada for the West or the extermination of the “Assassin/Hassasin” cult. The stomach isn’t there for the bodycounts needed to do such a thing. Look at AQ. all these years and still kicking and even a spinoff branch called ISIS.

andrew deacon
andrew deacon

232 less 24 tranche2 diverted to saudi less 48 tranche 3 cancelled leaves the raf with 160

Mark
Mark

That’s a argument for not being involved in the region period not the current deliberations. As we are currently striking Isis in the region it’s just idiotic we can’t hit there hq. If we are not willing to support allies when asked after they were attacked like we did with America then we shouldn’t be making alliances.

Jonathan
Jonathan

What is very sad is that you only have to publish information under FOI if you hold that information (you don’t need to go out and find an answer to a request if you don’t have it)? It means that the MOD was officially recording and using estimated combatants killed data even though it is a complete fairyland, plucked out of air data…… It’s called having a bit of a problem with a transactional measuring culture.

Rudolph Hucker
Rudolph Hucker

Whilst Cameron angles for air strikes, are others quietly pulling out? US has paused for (cough) tactical reasons. Russia has now deployed a cutting-edge S-400 air defense system within Syria which means that basically unless you ask their permission to bomb…. you have an excellent chance of being shot down.

https://www.rt.com/news/323596-s400-russia-syria-airbase-turkey/

This system now means that many planes flying over parts of Turkey are also at risk. Of course the Turks can expect “fair warning” before their jets are shot down.

mikezeroone

Well, at least with that S-400 uber-super-sand-SAM in place, Airseeker can farm its frequencies.

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

Obs. The MoS was quoting Air Vice Marshall Sir John Walker, former chief of Defence Intelligence. Numbers of Tornado available & what are deemed needed, come from him.

Observer
Observer

I get the feeling that some things just don’t change. Didn’t the US do something similar in the Vietnam War with the enemy casualties estimates?

Peter
Peter

UK involvement in Syria clearly isn’t going to be some sort of magic fix. However if we added our resources to the US/French push then i do believe we could see positive results.

How, and why? Frankly, I think we have acheived all that it acheivable by air power at the moment by denying freedom of movement which makes it hard for them to go on the offensive. ISIS are now digging deep holes to hide in and are generally on the defensive. Surely about the best we can with more airstrikes is to keep them hidden in deep holes until the locals are up to going in and mopping up…?

Bombing is really not much of a strategy, especially with the relatively small force we are deploying. If we mean to provide an effective contribution, surely we need to look at providing something where the value provided to people fighting is disproportionately higher than the cost to us? We are already doing this to some extent with training, but there has to be other areas we could get a similar effect.

As an example picked out of thin air, how about deploying a fleet of hospital ships with a large contingent of helicopters and running an InterNational Health Service offshore with world class health care for anybody wounded fighting ISIS? Since we already have hospital facilities on RFA Argus and presumably could persuade other countries to chip in with this sort of effort somewhat more easily than bombing it shouldn’t cost the earth, and it should provide a morale boost for people doing the fighting knowing that if they take a hit then they are going to get the best health care available in the world.

It also has the potential for creating lasting good will among signficiant numbers of people in the reigon when relatives who would have ended up crippled or dead go home to their families. Even Mr Corbyn could probably be persuaded to approve such a strategy…?

Jonathan
Jonathan

Peter one big problem with the whole hospital ship thing (nice idea) is that we really don’t like most of the other people fighting Daesh and would be just as happy if they did not get better or in a best case scenario sorted the Daesh issue with their dying breaths……..Its a case of the enemy of my enemy is in fact…………just another enemy.

leesea
leesea

The US got into this kind of stupidity about half way through the Vietnam War. Body Count was the metric that was frequently used and often debated. I hated it. That kind of down and dirty war was NOT about bodies but rather about rivers, and villages and provinces which were supportive of the the central govt and therefor our efforts to help it.

Rocket Banana
you could probably send about 40 a/c if you like you just wouldn’t have anyone to fly them

And how many pilots and navigators?

S O
S O

“I would think 8, 24 or 2, all that matters is not the numbers but their effect and in this case I doubt even 24 is “sufficient””

A typical approach would be to calculate average loiter per day over the area and to divide 24 hrs by this figure to arrive at a quantity.

Daesh is mostly in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq, so Incirlik or even better Mardin would be superior choices than a typical British fixation on Cyprus as air base.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
Incirlik or even better Mardin

@SO, you have never spoken for your country; which one would be the base [if, hypothetically] the German Panavia products would join in the fray?

Even if TD has vouched for you… I am still not sure, but give us a “sign”

Jeremy M H

RE: S-400

The system itself is less a problem than the need to clarify just what the Russians intend to do with it. Any pause is more about not making a bad situation worse.

The system is useless against current opposition, at least the declared opposition of the Russians.

The west should simply leave the area at this point. In my mind by deploying that system Russia has taken responsibility for everything in the area. We have no real option but destroying the thing presuming we want to operate in the area. Otherwise WWIII is at the mercy of a Russian missile crew with revenge on their mind. They shoot at us, we shoot back and things can get out of control.

Syria and ISIS just aren’t worth it. Let the Russians sit there and rot.

Rudolph Hucker
Rudolph Hucker

Now that you remind me, I recall an old acquaintance who used to be in US Mil.Int. – his very first tour of duty in Vietnam included body counts for a radar-controlled defense system. His superiors were keen to demonstrate how wonderful the new technology was. He was encouraged to “optimise” his counting upwards. Eventually he found the numbers he supplied were also magically increasing as they went up the chain of command, with each layer adding its own “improvements” to the numbers.

Jonathan
Jonathan

JMH, your speaking good sense there. It’s all getting to close to NATO and Russia knocking chunks out of each other. Leave Syria for the Russians to try and sort out………

Observer
Observer

The problem with leaving the Russians alone is that if the area stabilizes, it makes the Russians look good and at this moment the West does *not* want Russia to look good. Long term, it also affects relationships. Our relationship with Israel and Brunei started when they stood by us even as people were avoiding the area with a ten foot pole. Would it help you if the FSA and Iraq started thinking that the West is but a fair weather friend?

@SO

You missed my point. You could loiter 90 hours a day, it still would not matter as the effectiveness of air power is limited in this case. Case in point is the numbers above, most of the time there is simply nothing for them to bomb even if they loitered all day. Unless these sorties are B-52 carpet bombing missions, they are simply not going to change the current status quo with one enemy death a day.

Jeremy M H

@Observer
That is probably more fair than I would care to admit but honestly the whole thing is so complicated I have no idea who is bombing/supporting what and where.

The S-400 just presents an awkward issue. It can do nothing but shoot at aircraft, which ISIS doesn’t have. Assad is technically the legal government there so if he tells Russia to keep others out they could shoot. I don’t know that they will but it’s a messy situation.

It leaves everyone crappy binary choices. The S-400 can only shoot or not shoot aircraft. In return we can either ignore it if it shoots or bomb it in return.

It’s deployment is either irrelevant or a complete mess. There isn’t a lot of in between. There are almost no aircraft in the area, short of shooting down their own airplanes, that Russia can engage with the thing that won’t potentially escalate the situation.

Observer
Observer

My call is that the system is a pointed warning to Turkey, i.e You shoot our planes, we shoot yours. Not against the West specifically. As for Assad, well, the coalition has to come to an understanding, there is not going to be any peace without Assad. If he got offed, we’re just going to have the same game with more factions. So the West really has to make peace with him. Even the FSA, as detestable as it is to them. From his viewpoint, he really didn’t do anything wrong, Arab Spring was all about revolt to his authority which he had to suppress.

Hohum
Hohum

Yeah that Assad, lovely chap, apart from all that killing and torturing that is.

Seriously, the guy as slaughtered 200,000 of his own people through the deliberate targeting of civilians, he has run prisons that function as death camps and used starvation as a tactic of war. His strategy from the outset (which Russia is continuing) has been to target moderate groups and encourage Islamist ones, IS is so strong because of him and at the same time IS’s record is nothing compared to his own.

Obsvr

OK, now say after me, and keep repeating until you geddit:

“ISIS will only be defeated by combined arms manoeuvre on the ground”

Bombing alone is mere political tokenism and waste of the taxpayer’s money.

Chris
Chris

Rudolph H – ref the schmoozing of numbers in reporting chains – http://ogun.stanford.edu/~bnayfeh/plan.html

Waylander
Waylander

Despite a lot of the nonsense in the media the RAF is actually making quite a substantial contribution to the military intervention against ISIL (in Iraq) eg

450 + GR4 and Reaper strikes, one third of all coalition ISR missions flown, and nearly 30 manned and unmanned aircraft deployed.

903 EAW aircraft:

8 x Tornado GR4s (12 (B) Sqn)
10 x Reaper RPAS
2 x E-3D Sentry
2 x Sentinel R1
1 x Shadow R1
1 x Airseeker SIG INT (second aircraft to be deployed?)
2 x Voyagers
1 x C-17
2 x C-130J

For comparison, as of October the French had conducted 278 airstrikes and had 6 Rafales, 6 Mirage 2000,
an MPA and a tanker deployed, although obviously they have ramped things up since.

Those in the media and on twitter who like to bang on about ” a handful of Tornados making no difference”
always ignore the fact that around 40 percent of the UK’s airstrikes are conducted by Reapers, likewise they gloss over the huge contribution made by the RAF’s ISTAR aircraft and Voyagers.

dansmith17

The political arguments seem to be about some other argument not actually about IS.

If it would be useful for the RAF to contribute to more combat missions and it has spare capacity it can do it tomorrow in Iraq freeing up other coalition aircraft to strike in Syria.

When the initial campaign started neither France nor Britain nor Turkey were striking in Syria but Saudi, Qater, Jordan and UAE were. However quietly all the Arab states have stopped, Jordan after they lost the pilot in terrible circumstances launched an increasing series of strikes in the following few weeks, but then stopped altogether back in August, the Gulf Arabs have stopped some months ago.

Turkey is sitting on the border with 100’s of F-16 but seem to be only striking the Kurds not IS.

Cameron wants to be able to say ‘me too’ in the company of Obama and Hollander and highlight the chaos in the Labour Party, which is the real reason for a lot of the media commentary. That is the wrong reason to risk servicemen so lives.

If IS is an existential threat and we need to destroy them on the ground then a joint ground force of US, Russia, UK, France, Turkey, and Iran would not take long to occupy Raqqua if we were willing to do it, and if the threat is as big as is being made out then we should.

Observer
Observer

@Hohum

So? You got a choice. Him or an unstable region. Make your choice, pay for it. And don’t cry when things like France continue to happen. You don’t waltz into a region, start a civil war then cry crocodile tears when “Arab Spring” turns out to be more “Arab Winter” than Spring. Kiss him and make up or keep up with the ridiculous tokenism like Obsvr pointed out. And might I point out that the thing you are complaining about him doing is the exact thing needed to clean out the rebel groups, both Islamist and secular, that we have been saying? A clean sweep mop up operation on the ground?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hohum, productivity seems to have gone down from the days of the older Assad; wiki account how 40.000 ended up dead in short order (plus a thousand from the Syrian army, despite their massive overmatch)

“February 1982, when the Syrian Arab Army and the Defense Companies, under the orders of the country’s president Hafez al-Assad, besieged the town of Hama for 27 days in order to quell an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood against al-Assad’s government.[2][3] The massacre, carried out by the Syrian Army under commanding General Rifaat al-Assad, effectively ended the campaign begun in 1976 by Sunni Muslim groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, against the government.”
– some may have spotted the same Rifaat in this round
– the mysterious bomb attack that killed army & intelligence commanders in the most secure location in the country was probably the reverse of the wolf’s lair assassination (attempt), ie. it was a counter coup to the plotters of such. And their removal has left no one except Assad and his inner circle for the shia minority to hang their long-term survival hopes onto.

So that gvmnt ( not saying that Bassar wouldn’t, in the end) is not going to go anywhere, because the minority backing it has nowhere to go. Some of the counter offensives currently gaining ground can be seen as an attempt to carve out a viable area for a new mini-state. Or not so mini, because in the same go Lebanon would cease to exist and half of it would go over to that new entity.

Hohum
Hohum

Observer,

He is the unstable region, the civil war started because a large chunk of his populace wanted rid of him and there remains tens of thousands of fighters committed to his overthrow. The Russian’s only stepped up their involvement (they had been propping him up for much of the civil war before they sent combat forces) because Assad’s defeat was approaching.

France happened because Europe allows mass immigration. Even if you really want to blame ISIS then you end up back blaming Assad as he is the one who has allowed that organisation to become so powerful (he rarely targets it and his airforce has been known to support its operations).

As for manoeuvre on the ground, I find myself in agreement with Corbyn on that one, the British Army has failed twice on that front in the last fifteen years, third time won’t be lucky either.

Hohum
Hohum

ACC,

Quite the contrary, one of things rapidly undermining Assad this year was the respective minorities were rapidly turning away from Assad. He has been using them as a source (often forced) of cannon fodder for years and they have had enough.

TAS
TAS

“As for Assad, well, the coalition has to come to an understanding, there is not going to be any peace without Assad.”

At least half the Coalition disagree with that statement. As do the ‘moderate opposition’ inside Syria. How can a Coalition come to an ‘understanding’ when the issues are as black and white as this? Moreover, what makes your perspective ‘right’ and their ‘wrong’?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
the respective minorities were rapidly turning away from Assad.

– which minorities do you include into the plural, above?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
Moreover, what makes your perspective ‘right’ and their ‘wrong’?

That is a valid question, but:
The Middle East is well past “rights and wrongs”. Looks more like WW3 brewing up, everyone except China involved. Even that is not true as they were a restraining influence on Iran going full-bore on the ground – China worried about stability of oil supplies from the Gulf. That was until Russia started to egg Iran on; Russia being potential for an ally, whereas the more distant China can never be more than a supporter.

Hohum
Hohum

Up to and including Alawites.

Jeremy M H

@Observer

I agree it’s directed against Turkey but I don’t think you are going to distinguish between Turkish planes and other western aircraft from a ground based radar.

Hell, it will be almost impossible to do it visually as many coalition aircraft are the same ones Turkey flys.

TAS
TAS

“The Middle East is well past “rights and wrongs””.

Pretty much sums up the Western perspective.

Observer
Observer

Jeremy, the obvious solution to deconflicting the airspace is to keep US, UK and French aircraft far, far away from the Turkish ones.

@TAS

You’re wrong in the black and white outlook, it is all shades of grey, supping with the devil, the devil you know and the least worst outcome. If you are still thinking in terms of right and wrong, you are not yet in the correct mindset to working out the solution for that region yet.

@Hohum

Tough shit if he’s an even bigger bastard than Hitler, if you think you can stabilize the region without him, good luck. At least he keeps his crap at home. If you keep going on about evil this and dictator that, your foreign policy is going to be a huge failure.

TAS
TAS

Obs, the issue of Assad is black and white – he’s a part of the solution, or he isn’t. Those are the competing perspectives. When you have major power blocks either backing him or demanding his head on a plate, there is little, if any room for negotiation. You are right in that his remaining in power is likely to ensure a degree of stability (although what that means now is up for debate), but equally if the ‘moderate Syrian opposition’ reject him utterly, how do you proceed from there? The UK has maintained for some considerable time that he must go. It was William Hague who made that declaration when he was still FS. I respect few politicians, but he was one that I did so, if he believes Assad must go, surely that represents one of the more logical viewpoints?

Hohum
Hohum

Observer,

Assad never has and does not keep his crap at home. Hezbollah largely exists because of him allowing Iran to support it through Syria. Not to mention the Syrian states wider role in destabilising both Iraq and Lebanon over the years. You can’t stabilise the region with him.

stephen duckworth
Hohum
Hohum

Just call them what they are, Islamic State.

stephen duckworth

@Hohum
And there was i trying to be all Politically Correct ;-)

TAS
TAS

Islamic – fail.
State – fail.

Let’s just be accurate and call them what they are. Brutal and Pointless Sadists (which, handily, shortens to BAPS…).

TAS
TAS

Or Completely Unethical Neo-Terrorists…

IanW
IanW

You’re confusing two different issues, Mark. You asked what has changed since our response to 9-11. I answered your question: we no longer give the benefit of the doubt to the government’s honesty and competence in such matters. Your response was addressed to a different point: whether we should, on consideration, respond to our allies’ requests for help and extend our theatre of operations.

I happen to think it makes sense to do so, but our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan tells us the government must be forced to think about its objectives, what can be achieved and how. Those at the sharp end, in particular, need to know that those who sent them there have done so.

Observer
Observer

@TAS

For someone to be a “neo-terrorist” terrorism first has to go out of fashion at least once. I’ll just call them old fashioned terrorists.

The west has a trend of vilifying people who do things they don’t like. This cuts off all avenues of influence with them other than that of strong arm tactics like sanctions, embargos, blockades and no-fly zones. It’s not productive. I see this in the way the west is treating China as well. It isn’t good because it draws lines in the sand and turns people into outright enemies with no middle ground, leaving only “negative means of relationship”. I.e all the bad stuff. This puts any relationship into a death spiral, you vilify them, they blow off your advice because they are pissed off at you, you get even more mad and vilify them even more, they screw you over out of anger and revenge, you get even angrier ad infinitum.

You may not like Assad, but then who is the alternative? You have better luck looking for an honest man in Athens. Or a virgin in a brothel. There are no choir boys in the Middle East. At least not the non-AK toting kind. You can’t simply say “he has to go” without looking to see if there is a safety net or alternative to prevent the whole edifice from crashing down around your ears.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Here’s the problem.

“The west” – and particularly Europe – badly need some sort of stability in the ME. The reason? Not Paris in particular, or Tunisia for that matter, but Sangatte 2, Angela’s little haus party and the chaos in the Balkans (and less prominently now) the Med. What that means is returning Syria and to a lesser extent Libya to the point where they’re not a free-fire zone, because otherwise the torrent will keep coming and never abate and – an important point missed by some – neither territory will ever return to a functioning state (or states). But that requires the various combatant sides in Syria (of which there are at least three, probably five or more) to get to a point where they can agree to a cessation. Those parties include :

Syrian Govt/Iran/Russia – Shia block – want as much of a return to the status quo as they can get. Iran wants to protect Hezbollah and not lose face to the Sunni axis and would prefer not to have to deal with a Kurdish state, Russia wants to demonstrate it looks after its allies and the government (alawite/shia) would like to avoid those nice choppy-choppy folk and ideally not have to answer any more questions about Chemical weapons if you don’t mind.

Saudi/Qatari/Sunni wahhabists – patrons of various groups of varying barbarity. Hate the Shia, the Israelis, most westerners and anyone who looks at them in a funny way. They’re not sure what they want, ranging from the Caliphate down to simply the overthrow of Assad – after which point they can probably restart having a go at the Red Sea Pedestrians……

The Kurds (and other assorted minorities) primarily want a Kurdistan of some sort. Will fight anyone they need to tom make that happen. Unfortunately that includes most of the other participants…….

Turkey. Hate Assad – or more precisely the Iranian axis and it’s influence in the region which they think should be theirs. Hate the Kurds and determined not to see a Kurdistan. Willing to have a go at anyone to get their way, which at least stops them chinning off the Greeks.

Daesh/ISIS/ISIL/Bob – whatever you want to call them. Extremely competent asymmetric group – how did they get that way? Will take advantage of chaos to seize territory and populace and conduct info ops campaign via media. Care only for extended legitimacy among wider Islamic world simply by maintaining existence of caliphate. Most likely of the above to act against rest of world outside Syria and hence present most immediate threat.

At least two of the above (the Shia axis and Turkey) can be subject to economic/diplomatic pressure. At some stage, we’re going to have to introduce the Saudi/Sunni axis to that concept as well – easier said than done. The Kurds are a more intractable problem (given the attitude of the Turks and Iranians) but there is the basis of a state in Iraq already.

The one bunch for which there is no means of economic/diplomatic pressure is Bob and yet they present the most direct threat. That’s why its worth going after them, but frankly it doesn’t matter how many aircraft we send. Retired Air Marshals who were head of DI are just the same as retired Admirals who were head of DI (yes Alan West, we’re looking at you!) in that their opinions may not be all that these days. The problem is not sorties or time on station – it’s finding and confirming targets in the midst of civpop and denying BOb safe haven. That’s the reason for increasing the AO to Syria. Does it “win” the war? Probably not – only Islamic troops with clear governance and mandate will do that. Does it keep pressure on Bob and reduce the effect of his info ops? Might it allow the Iraqi army to clear their country? Yes and that’s the reason for doing it.

Unfortunately – much as I’d like to let the nutters slog it out to exhaustion, the impact on our own borders is such that we have to do something. Something that needs to include introducing all participants to the idea that we really don’t think their proxy war is a very good idea.

Chris
Chris

TAS – a while back I suggested we label the thugs Islamic Butchers in Libya Iraq and Syria (IBLIS) as apparently the term Iblis refers to the devil and/or his demons, whose primary activity is to incite humans … to commit evil through deception, which is referred to as “whispering into the hearts” (so says Wiki). It all seems to fit.

And while its very PC to absolve the non-terrorist majority of the Muslim faith from any responsibility, in my view retention of the term ‘Islamic’ is right and proper, as this is a gang of thugs held together by their brutal view of Islam, and to a large degree it is a problem for the Muslim community to fix. Outsiders cannot tell the radical that they are wrong; outsiders cannot see the signs of radicalisation; outsiders cannot readily identify the non-violent supporters that encourage and fund their terrorist brothers. Whether ultimately the ‘fix’ is that the moderates suffocate the radical gangs and the world becomes a more peaceful place for all, or that the radical view spreads across all followers of the religion and peace is exterminated – who knows…

Hohum
Hohum

TAS,

Islamic State are Islamic (very in fact) and are running a state whether we recognise it or not. To avoid any confusion they are lead by a man with a PhD in Islamic studies and are implementing literal interpretations of Islamic Holy texts. They are Islamic.

Observer,

Yes, the West has been cutting of China by allowing it to become the worlds largest trading economy, having it as a member of the IMF, WTO and a permanent UN security council member and then having the IMF about to declare its currency currency an IMF reserve. Damn that isolation must suck.

Assad should go because he is blood soaked tyrant of the most extreme form, Assad must go because that blood letting means he is completely unable to oversee peace in Syria, hence that whole ongoing civil war thing.

Hohum
Hohum

Stopping the illegal economic migrant flows out of the Middle East doesn’t require stability in the ME, that can be achieved with a real maritime/border security effort.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

Undoubtedly true. But it’s very hard to legitimise such an effort when a civil war is (and will continue to) displace huge totals of people and prevent any chance of them returning. Thus making any such security op a long-term commitment.

There is absolutely no doubt that a large proportion (possibly even a majority) of the migrants are economic. There is no justification for Iraqis or Afghans migrating to Europe for example.

However, getting that to stick in the context of the N African / ME wars is a difficult political sell. Hence the imperative to find an end to them of some description.

Hohum
Hohum

It is easier to sell to the European electorate than it is to European politicians, many of whom seem to have forgotten that security is even a thing.

TAS
TAS

Hohum and others,

Your view that they are Islamic is deeply, deeply wrong. Their beliefs and practices are reflective solely of their twisting of Islam to suit their purposes. Nothing they do, or say, is Islamic. Equally nothing the KKK ever did was even remotely Christian. I am not PC, not even remotely, I will say what I think and I think you are wrong.

Furthermore, your verdict that migrant flows can be stopped by shutting a border is indicative of a phenomenally selfish and disinterested attitude. You are correct – shutting the border and walling it up will stop migrants entering parts of Europe. As a result thousands, or millions of refugees fleeing violence will suffer needlessly and die on the border. The solution can only ever be to restore stability in their homeland and then repatriate them. Call it philosophical, call it a do-gooder attitude, whatever you want. This is the only solution.

Consider why migrants migrate. They seek a better life. What could be better than Western media portrayal of a life where every man can make a fortune, have an iPhone and drink clean water without the threat of being shot because some zealot decides that you offend him? No justification for migrants to migrate? WTF?

Final thought. None of us know which country you are from. But at a guess, it’s either Britain or the USA. Two countries whose current populations are almost exclusively built on migrants seeking a better life in times past.

Hohum
Hohum

TAS,

ISIS are made up of a bunch of people who have read the Koran and the Hadiths and are now doing what they say. The ISIS ideology is a literal interpretation of Islamic texts, not a perversion or manipulation of it but a literal reading.

Also, yes my attitude is selfish if thats what we now call worrying about the welfare of European citizens.

Migrants always have justification for migrating, it doesn’t mean that justification is sufficient or credible. FYI, they are perfectly safe in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon.

dgos
dgos

nab – brilliant summary. Consistent with most informed opinion I have seen.

Still think we should offer Falklands? / South Georgia as site for genuine refugees for say 5 years let them set up administration in exile .

Use their own skilled / professional people to run medical services, policing justice, all levels of education and construct facilities. Set our component of cost against the 7% – get contributions from other affected countries.

Train those of fighting age to go back to sort it out at home.

Ensure monitored panels of Syrians to verify the status ( place of origin, educational status, criminal records , health records etc) of those applying for refuge and provide credible individual documentation .

Challenger
Challenger

@TAS

Got to agree with Hohum on link between IS and Islam.

Like the other two big monotheism the holy texts of Islam offer a deadly mix of literal interpretation and wide-ranging inconsistencies.

I for one am very glad that the vast majority of Muslims want to live in peace and prosper as part of an inclusive society, however they achieve this ( as do Jews and Christians), by cherry-picking the nicer bits of their holy texts and choosing to ignore the elements which are unpractical, detrimental or dangerous

This 99% live by one set of selective principals and ethics. The psychotic scum-bags of IS and similar groups follow another highly selective list. However they both come from the same source.

To say they do not strikes me as both rather naive and ultimately problematic if the wider world wants Islam to become more reflective and address the serious issues which plague a lot of Muslim countries.

Observer
Observer

Actually TAS, Hohum is right on the Islamic part, they just take it to the extreme, but unfortunately even that extreme is within the bounds of interpretation.

Hohum, I’m not talking about isolation, I’m talking about the sabre-rattling and rhetoric coming out from the west and particularly the US. I watched a House of Representatives hearing manipulate Greenspan with leading questions in ~09 to blame the economic crisis on China’s currency manipulation. That is indicative of the direction the US wants to take with China, confrontation, blame pushing and aggression. Not a good way to go. The IMF and all the rest you mentioned cannot be be denied to China if they want to give the impression of an international community, but that does not mean they are all friends.

Hohum
Hohum

Observer,

What sabre rattling? That China may or may not have manipulated its currency is an accepted academic debate on which most people conclude that yes in fact they did- pointing that out is hardly Sabre rattling, especially when compared to what China has been up to in the South China Sea.

Observer
Observer

And the 2nd part of the sentence which you ignored? That the economic crisis was the result of China’s currency manipulation?

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin

I bet the Stills would love that. Not.

Jonathan
Jonathan

Daesh call them Daesh, because they don’t like being called that. Islamic state pampers to their world view……I know it’s petty but………every little helps.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy

@NAB – beautifully put, and absolutely dead right; suggesting that Europe has three coldly rational but politically unacceptable choices…we could leave the whole thing firmly alone, fortify our southern and eastern borders and re-arm massively against the point where Iblis (Thank you Chris, with your permission I’ll be using that in future!) are a proper state against whom we can have a proper war in the Mediterranean and the Balkans…or we could identify the handful of people there we can most easily work with (Kurds, Israelis, perhaps a few others) and help them to create and maintain Fortress-States from which we can keep on delivering punitive action whenever and wherever we feel it to be necessary, and keep an eye on things generally…or we can get over our angst about our wicked imperial past, register the fact that despite that past and given half a chance an awful lot of people will risk their lives and spend all their resources to put themselves back under European rule…but deliver that rule a little closer to where they originally came from… :-).

As it is, the only more-or-less acceptable solution is to muddle along in such a way as to keep our key allies on-side, maintain some kind of involvement in the region for intelligence-gathering purposes, and wait for something worse to turn up and push us nearer towards enacting one or other of the genuinely rational strategies…and being Gloomy, I am in no doubt that something worse will be along any time now…and in the meantime, muddling along it is. :-(

GNB

cky7
cky7

TAS,

“Completely Unethical Neo-Terrorists”

Lol. I dunno if they’re islamic or not but think that gives a much more apt acronym than ISIS/ISIL :)

ChrisM
ChrisM

“Stopping the illegal economic migrant flows out of the Middle East doesn’t require stability in the ME, that can be achieved with a real maritime/border security effort.”
Not unless you are willing to throw the refugees into the sea, or somehow forcefully repatriate them into a warzone.
The next level of inhumanity down is to build huge refugee camps in Europe, only let them out to go home, and broadcast to the world that they aren’t great places to live. This would be politically ‘tricky’, especially in Germany with their patchy history of keeping people alive in such places.
The reality is that the only solution is to stop them coming, and that means stabilising their homelands, one way or another.

Waylander
Waylander

RAF airstrikes 1st – 26th November:

1 November 2015 An RAF Reaper used a Hellfire missile to destroy a group of terrorists in close combat with Iraqi troops, while a second Reaper, operating over Anbar province, worked in close cooperation with coalition fast jets to assist Iraqi operations to isolate the ISIL terrorists in and around Ramadi. The Reaper provided surveillance support to six coalition air strikes on terrorists manoeuvring in the area, and conducted four highly accurate strikes of its own using Hellfire missiles on groups of extremists as they attempted to reposition themselves against the advancing Iraqi forces. In north-west Iraq, Tornado GR4s were meanwhile supporting Kurdish peshmerga near Sinjar: three Paveway attacks destroyed an armed pick-up truck, a weapons cache, and a sniper position.

2 November 2015 A Reaper conducted three successful strikes with two Hellfire missiles and a GBU-12 guided bomb against ISIL terrorist positions in western Iraq, including an anti-aircraft gun which the Reaper had located.

3 November 2015 A GR4 patrol again provided support to the Kurdish forces near Sinjar. A Brimstone missile destroyed a terrorist weapons cache, and a Paveway destroyed a mortar position on the top of a building.

5 November 2015 Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri were able, despite bad weather, to use Paveway IV guided bombs against a pair of ISIL fortified positions near Sinjar; the Kurdish unit whom the GR4s were supporting confirmed that both terrorist positions had been destroyed.

8 November 2015 The GR4s were again in action over northern Iraq , destroying a further two ISIL positions near Tal Afar, which had been firing at Kurdish forces, including a rocket launch site concealed in a building.

9 November 2015 GR4s provided close air support to a Kurdish unit on the outskirts of Sinjar, which was in close combat with terrorists, armed with rocket-propelled grenades, who were defending a fortified compound. Despite the proximity of the Kurdish troops, our aircrew were able to conduct a carefully planned attack with two Paveway IV guided bombs that destroyed the compound.

11 November 2015 A Reaper used a GBU-12 guided bomb to destroy a terrorist-held building near Sinjar, then successfully attacked with a Hellfire missile a group of ISIL fighters as they attempted to move to a new position. Meanwhile, over Ramadi, a Tornado patrol destroyed a terrorist truck bomb with a Brimstone missile.

12 November 2015 The Reaper’s controllers were also able to conduct two successful strikes with Hellfire missiles on groups of terrorists as they attempted to react to the Kurdish advance. Although Sinjar was the focus for much coalition air activity, patrols were maintained over other areas of Iraq where the fight against ISIL continues, and RAF Tornado GR4s provided close air support to the Iraqi units closing in on the terrorist positions in Ramadi. Just north of the city, a terrorist supply truck was identified at the mouth of an underpass, and destroyed by a direct hit from a Brimstone missile.

13 November 2015 Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri, supported by a Voyager air tanker, provided close air support to Iraqi troops fighting in the area around Ramadi. Our aircraft conducted four successful attacks on a set of Da’ish terrorist positions, using a combination of Paveway IV guided bombs and Brimstone missiles. A second Tornado patrol continued to support the Iraqi forces during the night, and destroyed a terrorist armoured personnel carrier with a direct hits from a Brimstone missile. Meanwhile, further north an RAF Reaper assisted an Iraqi unit which reported that, following a firefight, a group of Da’ish terrorists had taken shelter in a derelict industrial site, hiding under an oil tank. Despite the close proximity of the Iraqi soldiers, the Reaper’s crew were able to direct a GBU-12 guided bomb onto the terrorist position and destroy it, without risk to the friendly forces.

15 November 2015 RAF Reaper flew overwatch, destroying a terrorist vehicle with a Hellfire missile. The Reaper then crossed into Syrian airspace where it conducted routine intelligence collection against ISIL and provided surveillance support to the major French air strike on a large terrorist facility near Raqqa

16 November 2015 Two successive Tornado patrols extended the support to the Kurdish offensive. The first flight used a Paveway bomb to destroy a mortar position which had opened fire on the Kurds. The following mission destroyed a heavy machine-gun near Mosul with a Paveway IV, then proceeded west towards Sinjar. There was heavy cloud, which may have encouraged the terrorists to assume that they were safe from air attack, but working very closely with the Kurdish forces, the GR4s were able to guide a Paveway onto a large group of over 30 Da’ish terrorists who were massing for a counter-attack; the Kurdish unit subsequently reported that the air strike had been highly effective. The Tornado patrol then destroyed another ISIL mortar position south-west of Sinjar.

17 November 2015 Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri provided close air support to Iraqi ground forces closing in on Ramadi. Our aircraft conducted three successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs, destroying an improvised artillery piece – a so-called “Hell Cannon” – and two heavy machine-gun positions. Support was also given to the Kurdish forces as they exploited their recent victory at Sinjar, and on Thursday, Tornados used a Paveway to destroy a Da’ish sniper position which had opened fire on Kurdish troops, then scored a direct hit with a Brimstone missile on a terrorist vehicle near Sinjar. The same day saw a Reaper flying overwatch for Iraqi troops further south, and it successfully struck a group of terrorists with a Hellfire missile.

20 November 2015 Reapers conducted three strikes on Friday 20 November: two Hellfires destroyed an armed pick-up truck and a terrorist check-point, whilst a GBU-12 guided bomb eliminated a large group of terrorists gathered at a weapons cache. Two more ISIL check-points were struck by a Reaper over Northern Iraq.

22 November 2015 Tornado GR4s attacked a Da’ish vehicle armed with an anti-aircraft gun and a stockpile of home-made explosives, destroying both with Paveways.

25 November 2015 Two Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri patrolled near Mosul, and conducted three precision attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs on groups of terrorist fighters. In addition, a terrorist vehicle was destroyed by a direct hit from a Brimstone missile. The Tornados then flew west to the area south-east of Sinjar, where a fourth Paveway strike destroyed a Da’ish heavy machine-gun position.
A second Tornado patrol continued to support the Kurdish ground operations into the night, and it used a Paveway to destroy a heavy machine-gun position to the south-west of Sinjar. Meanwhile, an RAF Reaper remotely piloted aircraft was also providing overwatch for the Kurdish troops, using its advanced surveillance sensors, and its crew conducted a successful attack with a GBU-12 guided bomb on a building in a terrorist-held compound near Mosul.

From MoD updates on Op Shader.

David Hume Footsoldier

Looking at the weapon systems most often used and the tally of civilian casualties (which indicate ROE) the data is likely to be very accurate. Current targeting (whether dynamic or planned) require a high degree of precision and certainty, if you can do that for the strike you are also in position to do that for the immediate Battle Damage Assessment.
Measuring Enemy Killed In Action (EKIA) is a sensible element of a Measurement of Performance (MOP) system. Measuring EKIA is also useful as part a Measurement of Effectiveness (MOS) system. The key for figures is that they should not be taken in isolation, as by themselves they provide very little value, as part of a system they add value.

David Hume Footsoldier

But any war also has an element of attrition in it and therefore a body count metric does have some value. The only people that I know of fixated on body count are the media pundits. I don’t know anyone in the military who is, including a great many involved in the current campaign.

David Hume Footsoldier

The problem with theological arguments is that until death or Judgment Day we will never know.

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