Military Review

Commander D. Dolan proposes a new approach to solving the problem of ISIS

One of the main problems of recent years is international terrorism, and recent events in Egypt and France only confirm this. At the moment, the main task in this context is the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization, whose activities are banned in a number of countries, including Russia. Since last summer, a coalition led by the United States has been waging an open fight against terrorists. Combat aircraft of several countries daily make several sorties and destroy various targets in Iraq and Syria. At the end of September this year, the Russian connected to the destruction of terrorist facilities in Syria aviation. Nevertheless, apparently, the operation to destroy the “Islamic state” is far from successful completion.

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:
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  1. izya top
    izya top 18 November 2015 05: 51
    "destroy various targets"
    yeah, excavators, hospitals, weddings ...
  2. igorka357
    igorka357 18 November 2015 06: 16
    This Dolan where he lives at all, there are no territories completely controlled and loyal by ISIS, there isn’t even such a state of ISIS, there is a big gang of brutal terrorists who control certain areas by force of fear, what is the whole range of weapons))) ?! at the highest level !!! In fact, if you develop a serious offensive in one area, ISIS will not be able to control the other, they can withstand the attacks, by pulling together forces in the main areas of the Syrian army’s offensive, in fact the group’s mobile movement to the critical point of the enemy’s likely breakthrough , this is if the language of the scout ..))) !!! The Syrian army is weak and small in terms of effective offensives, but if the troops were more serious there, ISIS could be broken up, and only small gang groups would remain !!!
    1. alex-cn
      alex-cn 18 November 2015 06: 54
      it is precisely because these are gangs, and not a state, that Dollan's strategy will not work. Only long-term and systematic pressure can destroy this, let me put it like a "pseudo-partisan" phenomenon. You can recall that the Basmachi were crushed almost until the age of 40, the forest brothers and the Ouns (sorry not to the end) until the mid-50s, etc. And given the general lack of control over the territories and borders in the region .... In general, it will be a very long time and bombs alone will not be enough here.
  3. Good cat
    Good cat 18 November 2015 06: 42
    And they tried not to get into the school with an atomic bomb?
  4. cap
    cap 18 November 2015 06: 51
    If you imagine ISIS as a client in a supermarket, under the US brand, whose plastic limit in dollars is unlimited, it is inconceivable to send such a client to their forefathers. There will be no one to go shopping. Children in Ukraine are with their grandparents. The little ones are still undergrowth. they found someone on a trip, and they say "see Paris and die."
    Well, put in a corner, well, you can flog. And so let them live. Interfere with Russia, Europe.
    "And we got to do with it."
  5. slizhov
    slizhov 18 November 2015 07: 00
    Kerry said that in 2-3 weeks a truce will come in Syria ...
    In a dream, the United States again sees this truce, so that these nits are not destroyed, but given the opportunity through various elections to penetrate into all structures of state power, or to KEEP ALL THIS husk as a "right sector", for example, in Ukraine.
    Only, as Putin said-DESTROY !!!
  6. Taygerus
    Taygerus 18 November 2015 07: 01
    but how then do they plan to divide the immoderate into moderate?
    1. Do not care
      Do not care 18 November 2015 07: 24
      Moderate terrorists can only be in one state: When they are dead:
      1. anip
        anip 18 November 2015 09: 20
        True, to paraphrase the American proverb: A good terrorist is a dead terrorist.
  7. rotmistr60
    rotmistr60 18 November 2015 08: 23
    What kind of strategy these plans will be implemented and whether massive carpet bombing will begin will be shown in the very near future.

    It doesn’t matter which strategy, it’s important that we seriously engage in the fight against IS. And then the Western coalition in all the other Russian Aerospace Forces, at the same time from the outside, without straining, is watching how we are waging this struggle alone. Well, maybe now everything will fall into place and the West will finally begin to contribute.
  8. anip
    anip 18 November 2015 09: 18
    I would never believe that the former leading colonial powers France and England could not cope with ISIS. This is with their rich experience of colonial conquests and suppression of uprisings. And the States with their rich experience to beat the weak ... And since still can not cope, then they all do not need it.
    1. DimanC
      DimanC 18 November 2015 13: 46
      Cope with your own chain dogs? Why do they need it? :-)
  9. nekot
    nekot 18 November 2015 09: 43
    The reasoning about the containment of NATO forces during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they "fought for the hearts of the civilian population" it's British. About atomic bombs on already practically defeated Japan is generally silent. And the reasoning that when their relatives are killed and their houses are destroyed, then peaceful citizens will organize ISIS resistance units look controversial, but quite Western. There is nothing new, only the blatant cynicism and duplicity of this "commander" causes slight nausea, and there will be no effect from his proposals.
    1. Morrrow
      Morrrow 18 November 2015 09: 58
      Read carefully what the author writes.
  10. The comment was deleted.
  11. dukalis
    dukalis 18 November 2015 10: 15
    Haha smiled
    Germany they
    Accurately bombed
    Dresden remember
    Dolan the bastard is two-faced
  12. Bekas1967
    Bekas1967 18 November 2015 10: 44
    1. distribute leaflets warning the civilian population about the bombing. 2. also through the media. 3. give a week to evacuate. 5. rake Rakka to the ground. And so with each of us. , which the Syrians themselves will deal with at their discretion. I mean that in war as in war.
    1. vit357
      vit357 18 November 2015 11: 40
      And who will give them (civilians) evacuation?
      1. Bekas1967
        Bekas1967 18 November 2015 13: 40
        Grozny was demolished when there was a need, and then what? A ground one with inevitable losses ??? ((((I repeat, in a war as in a war !!! at least get angry ... they rely on our humanism, and cut, burn, explode whom ??? is correct, Civilians! they themselves should not find a place on earth.
  13. Monster_Fat
    Monster_Fat 18 November 2015 11: 33
    Defeating IS (former ISIS) is very "simple" for this you need to "defeat" their patrons in the US, EU, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who feed IS with money, weapons, personnel, etc. - that's all. wink
  14. vit357
    vit357 18 November 2015 11: 38
    "Neo-Nazis, Stalinists and other extremists"
    ))) Horses mixed in a bunch, people (s) I won’t be surprised if this individual does not know that the Americans were not on the moon)))
  15. Gomel
    Gomel 18 November 2015 12: 26
    Bomb Syrian Racca city in the Stone Age?

    Very interesting article. Just for the cycle "Overton Windows"

    1. The article admits that the IG is a state with a certain territory, it is deliberately ignored that it is the territory of other sovereign states of Iraq and Syria. Time.

    2. The destruction of the civilian population is presented as an inevitable necessity, and references are made to WWII and the Korean and Vietnamese companies. Those. lead the reader to the idea that killing a civilian is not killing a particular old man, child or woman - it is killing an enemy, since it is simply "collateral damage". Two.

    3. In the article itself (I found the primary source and worked with it on my own, however, the presented material is a quite high-quality "squeeze"), many contradictions are given, one of them is the most obvious - that Dolan has a clear cognitiveness of conclusions - that during carpet bombing civilians will go into resistance and the fact that during carpet bombing they will join IS in order to take revenge. These are three.

    3.1. Note: Arabs are not Germans (to the fact that they will join the "resistance", and this is distortion: ideological processing in the Third Reich was at its best, and after the bombing of Dresden and other "highly moral" acts of the British (and Americans), the number of Volkssturm has increased dramatically.) Rather, it will be very, very opposite: those civilians who have lost their loved ones in one way or another will help IS. And with insignificant information processing (for example: "Assad did not help you and the Russians did not save ..."), the resistance of the entire territory occupied by IS to the government troops will become total (almost, many actually left earlier).
    Here is my vision.

    Z.Y. I put a minus not to the author, but to the article outlined.
    It is possible for the VO team and programmers to make two assessments, by the way:
    For example, for this material (article) I would make diametrically opposite estimates:

    1. Rating: Material usefulness (for HE, our information space and awareness raising) - definitely a plus.

    2 Rating: Personal attitude to the material (both from the position of presentation and from the position of internal agreement with the information provided) - definitely a minus.

    So I put Ryabov Cyril plus, and Commander Daniel Dolan - the most severe minus.

    Z.Y. You can make stars (on a five-point or 10 point system) well, this is for programmers, however, everything is on the surface
  16. Odysseus
    Odysseus 18 November 2015 12: 54
    An excellent proposal, but I have a counter and no less good. Since the main neo-Nazis are the United States, with its division of states and people into "exclusive" America, the rest of the West and "other natives", I propose to use forces of all countries of the world against the United States military potential "without limits".
    We will bomb American cities, including the city where the humanist Dolan's family lives, until, in the words of the author of the proposal, the Americans "do not have an incentive to resist."
    I think Dolan should support.
  17. marinier
    marinier 18 November 2015 14: 58
    Na samom deleting, etot oficer na pensii ni4ego novogo ne predlozil.Vse 4to on uze
    ozvu4il delaet uspeshno VKS, Rossii !!
    1. Gomel
      Gomel 18 November 2015 16: 11
      Quote: marinier
      Na samom deleting, etot oficer na pensii ni4ego novogo ne predlozil.Vse 4to on uze
      ozvu4il delaet uspeshno VKS, Rossii !!

      Sorry, and take the trouble to provide links from normal sources) where and when did the Russian Aerospace Forces destroy civilians on the territory of Syria (though not only, but in general)
      1. marinier
        marinier 18 November 2015 17: 23
        They asked you not for 4! Eeyore did not mean
        projects. I mean in the territory of the controlled igil
        the destruction of the logistics and infrastructure of these gangs.
  18. Nikolay71
    Nikolay71 18 November 2015 16: 29
    It is certainly not a pity for Dolan to bomb "some Syrians or Iraqis". They are not exceptional.
  19. fa2998
    fa2998 18 November 2015 17: 25
    Quote: Bekas1967
    Grozny was demolished when there was a need, and then what? A ground one with inevitable losses ??? ((((I repeat, in a war as in a war !!! at least get angry ... they rely on our humanism, and cut, burn, explode whom ??? is correct, Civilians! they themselves should not find a place on earth.

    I completely agree! It’s impossible to solve the problem by bombing outside the cities. And even the offensive of the Syrian Army doesn’t give much. THIS IS A CIVIL WAR, there’s no solid front, some left, others came. You need to decide whether to create a powerful coalition, create a solid front (or two) and a planned attack from the Middle Sea to the Iranian border to clean the territory. And in North Africa to do the same. Troops are left in the liberated territory and help the local authorities to establish order. As in post-war Germany. ISIS branches in Europe will be cleaned up by the police and security. -the victims will be, but moderate. If they are not destroyed, the victims will be even greater, and among them there will be children and women. hi
  20. traveler
    traveler 18 November 2015 18: 04
    if igil is a terrorist organization, then the population of the territories occupied by it is hostages. accordingly, hostages must be freed, and not destroyed by carpet bombing, even if the hostages have the Stockholm syndrome.
    if igil is a state, then it turns out that there were no terrorist attacks. it turns out that the countries that bombed the territory of the igil earlier are themselves aggressors and they were struck back by the means available to the igil, bombers and cruise missiles from the Islamists did not have to ensure that the answer was symmetrical, so there were sabotage. in this case, the inhabitants of igil are citizens of a hostile state and - war is war - in the means of their destruction you can not be especially embarrassed, and igil as a knowingly weak side has a moral right to any retaliatory action, even though the nuclear power plant is blown up behind enemy lines. and this is not terrorism.
    therefore, probably, one must adhere to the first version - igil-terrorists, and in order to free settlements from them, special operations must be carried out in an attempt to save the lives of civilians.
  21. tracer
    tracer 18 November 2015 19: 22
    I, too, of course, are for the release of all the hostages from ISIS, but we must probably understand that the territories of this organization's capture are already similar to the territory of an entire state, albeit a small one. And the number of the population captured on the territories is estimated at hundreds of thousands. With such a scale of terrorism and the very depth of the deed of igils, no intelligence services, even gathered from all over the world, will be able to release such a number of captured. The surgical scalpel is significantly inferior in all respects to the excavator. The point is that it is necessary to use both tools in proportion to the task at hand. But here you can't do without an excavator, you can't dig the sand with a scalpel from your hand like that. Look with what pleasure the ki from the igils kill everyone and everything in their path. As they smile, reveling in the blood of victims. Absolutely ALL possible resources will be used by terrorists for their bloody goals, including human ones. During the last terrorist attacks in Paris, many hostages died in a shootout with the police, but even more would have died if the police had entered into negotiations. Without destroying the Ishil in Raqqa and other strongholds, it is impossible even to think about victory over this evil. They openly laugh at our civilizations and will use our weak sides in every possible way. The Russian Aerospace Forces showed the correct path and direction for conducting the entire negotiation process with terrorists. Namely, this is the principle of "urinating where we find it", already long ago voiced by the President of Russia. I won't mention the toilet .... Bury moderate and not very moderate thugs in the sand is the best means of negotiations with thugs and non-humans.