For various reasons, over a year the coalition of foreign countries has not been able to destroy a terrorist organization that represents a danger to the entire Middle East and nearby regions. For this reason, more and more often there are proposals to change the strategy of fighting terrorists. 16 in November on the news portal of the US Naval Institute was an article by Commander Daniel Dolan, a former US Navy pilot. In his material Opinion: A New Approach to Dealing with ISIS (“Opinion: A New Approach to Solving the Problem with ISIS”), a retired officer proposed new ways to combat terrorists.
At the beginning of his article, D. Dolan notes that due to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, the French authorities and the entire Western world as a whole no longer wish to restrain their anger, and intend to continue to use force to solve problems with the "Islamic State". Thus, the French air force responded to the terrorist attacks that took place on Friday and Saturday night with new strikes on the targets of the terrorists. Last weekend, the French pilots made a series of sorties that ended with the destruction of their targets.
French aircraft are preparing to fly to attack targets in Syria, November 15. Photos of the Ministry of Defense of France
D. Dolan notes that the latest coalition attacks were more effective in comparison with the average daily combat work. In addition, he proposes to consider the peculiarities of coalition strikes and to determine the most effective tactics of fighting the organization of the IG. When studying the current situation, it is proposed to refer to storiesand also remember the eternal truths of strategy. All this, in the opinion of a retired officer, will help to make the right opinion and make correct predictions.
Turning to history, Commander Dolan recalls the work of Karl von Clausewitz. This commander was a staunch supporter of the concentration of forces on the direction of the main attack, which allows him to defeat the enemy. In addition, von Clausewitz’s works dealt with the specifics of an armed conflict between two parties with unequal forces. In this case, the victory and / or peace required two conditions: ensuring the "unbelievable victory" of the enemy and the "unacceptable cost" of the war.
The author notes one curious fact from recent history. In all armed conflicts that occurred after 11 September 2001, the NATO organization did not use its military potential to the fullest extent, and also constantly restrained it. In the case of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, this approach had its own reasons: in these countries, the troops had to fight the enemy, and also fight for the hearts and minds of the local population. In the case of the Islamic State terrorist organization, there are other initial conditions and a different context. For this reason, believes D. Dolan, another strategy of struggle is also required.
Further, the author again offers to recall the story, but this time it refers to the experience of the Second World War. He recalls that in the initial period of this conflict, the United States bomber aircraft did everything possible to improve the accuracy of air strikes and reduce civilian casualties among enemy states. For example, in a newsreel about the famous Doolittle Reid (raid on Tokyo in April 1942) it was emphasized that American pilots were carefully aiming not to get into schools, hospitals or other civilian objects. In the case of the bombing of Germany, this approach led to the fact that the pilots of the 8 Air Force, even suffering serious losses from the German air defense, continued to fly on mission during the day, when it was possible to deliver the most effective attacks with minimal damage to the civilian population.
Both in the past and now, Western commanders prefer a similar “humane” approach to the planning of air strikes. Only after a long struggle with a strong and unwilling to surrender to the enemy, did the United States decide to join Britain and try out new tactics. The result of joint air raids of the two countries and independent raids was the massive use of incendiary bombs, as a result of which dozens of German and Japanese cities were burned to the ground. Here D. Dolan asks the question: Is the current situation with an implacable enemy in the person of terrorists not analogous to the Second World War on a smaller scale?
The author admits that massive bombing alone is not capable of leading to victory over the enemy and the end of the war, but with their help several important issues can be solved. The result of massive air raids during the Second World War was the death of tens of thousands of civilians. At the same time, such strikes led to a change in the strategic situation. The death of citizens changed the views of the civilian population, so that the enemy appeared additional internal problems. Many citizens eventually joined the Resistance Movement and thereby brought the end of the war closer.
Commander Dolan notes one characteristic detail of the current situation. The Islamic State terrorist organization is different from other similar formations, like Al Qaeda (organized an attack on the World Trade Center and other acts of terrorism, banned in Russia and other countries) and others, because it tries to be a state. In the occupied territories, terrorists are trying to build some kind of state institutions, as well as provide some services to the local population. Naturally, no country in the world recognizes such a state. However, this fact does not prevent terrorists from implementing their plans, including preparing terrorist acts.
According to D. Dolan, NATO can demonstrate the potential of its air force by conducting a carpet bombing of the city of Rakka. This city is the actual "capital" of the terrorists, so a massive blow to it can undermine their potential. If we again turn to the works of von Clausewitz, then such an operation would entail both the "unacceptable cost of war" and the "improbability of victory" for terrorists. In addition, a massive strike on the "capital" will be a signal to all those who support the "Islamic State" or take a neutral position: they will understand that this terrorist organization is unable to defend its allies. Finally, massive attacks will be the impetus for the emergence of a new resistance movement. People who do not agree with the ideology of "IG" will be able to take part in the fight against this organization.
The author acknowledges that such a proposal has a number of problems. So, the most important counter-argument against the attack of the “capital” is the fact that the basis of the “Islamic state” is not any city or army, but the idea of establishing a “world caliphate”. Even if all the occupied cities were razed to the ground, the terrorists are unlikely to turn down their black flags and return to their families. On the other hand, Dolan sneers, it will be difficult for them to find a phone to call home.
Back in the days of the American War of Independence, Great Britain learned what war is not with people, but with an idea. The United States has a similar experience: they have already spent a decade and a half to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the ideology and movement are still alive. An obvious conclusion follows from this. Even if all the occupied cities were destroyed, the idea of building a “caliphate” will remain alive. However, in this case, supporters of such ideas will become marginalized and, together with “neo-Nazis, Stalinists and other extremists,” will be forced to live in a world that opposes them.
Using the full potential of its air force, NATO will also be able to show that support or neutrality towards terrorists can be very expensive. Such a “message” will be delivered by B-52 aircraft or other similar platforms, and not in the form of carefully thought-out strikes “at the exact address”. On the contrary, the support of the "Islamic State" can result in the destruction of the entire city. Commander Dolan admits that his proposals look too gloomy. However, he notes that such a strategy can be used if other methods of combating terrorism do not lead to the expected results.
13 and 14 November, there were reports of the destruction of the two field commanders of the Islamic State. These operations have once again proved that unmanned aerial vehicles with air-to-ground weapons are a convenient tool for performing tactical tactical operations. However, the "IG" is a fairly stable grouping. Despite the elimination of numerous militants and commanders, it continues to exist and implement its plans.
D. Dolan completes his article with a curious conclusion. If the Islamic State terrorist organization really wants to be a state, even if it is self-proclaimed, then it should be treated accordingly. This “state” should prepare to bear responsibility for its actions. He will have to answer for acts of terrorism throughout the world. In this case, NATO aircraft is a very convenient tool that can cause unacceptable damage to terrorists, and also deprive them of any hope for the successful implementation of existing plans.
Over the past year, a coalition led by the United States has been hitting targets for terrorists in Iraq and Syria, but this operation is far from complete. The strategy chosen by the NATO commanders so far, as we see, is not capable of ensuring a quick victory over the "Islamic state" and the liberation of the territories it has seized. Even a superficial examination of this situation may lead to a conclusion about the wrong choice of a method for solving an existing problem.
The same conclusion was made by Commander D. Dolan. Not seeing the particular success of the current operation, he proposes to move to more severe measures, which, in his opinion, are fully capable of solving the existing problem. The former military pilot believes that it is necessary to recall the methods of strategic aviation used in past armed conflicts, from World War II to the Vietnam War. It is proposed, as General Curtis Lemay said, to bomb the enemy into the Stone Age.
Massive carpet bombing of cities during the Second World War showed its potential. Such methods allow in the shortest possible time to cause the most serious damage to the enemy’s industry, logistics and management system due to the simultaneous destruction of a number of important objects. However, there are negative side effects, namely the risk of unjustifiably high civilian casualties. It should be noted that strategic effectiveness was often put at the forefront, and the loss of the population was recorded in collateral damage.
It should be noted that D. Dolan recognizes the imperfection of his proposal. Indeed, the complete destruction of a city, as well as the elimination of a certain number of ordinary militants or commanders, will not lead to the disappearance of enemy ideology. Moreover, massive strikes may even become an additional incentive for those who wish to join a terrorist organization and take revenge.
The whole essence of Commander Dolan’s idea is at the end of his article: if terrorists wish to establish their own state, then they should be treated as they should in such cases, namely, to declare war and use the full potential of the armed forces. If the strategy currently used does not help solve the problem, then it is probably worth moving to more radical methods.
For the time being, one can only try to predict whether the leadership of NATO will heed the opinion of a retired officer. Nevertheless, it is already clear that the situation with the terrorist organization “Islamic State” has gone too far and requires radical measures. After the recent series of terrorist attacks in different countries, a number of developed countries have a desire to deal with the issue and eliminate the terrorist threat. For what kind of strategies these plans will be implemented and whether massive carpet bombing will begin - will be shown very soon.
Opinion: A New Approach to Dealing with ISIS: