Fighting, Fishing, and Filming: The Islamic State’s Maritime Operations

CIMSEC – Even with the loss of land control in Iraq and Syria, IS guerrillas continue to operate along the region’s river systems. And with the organization’s international expansion and the establishment of a global network of insurgent hubs, the group’s branches, from the Sulu-Celebes Sea to the Lake Chad Basin, are more actively incorporating maritime activities into their insurgency campaigns.  

Army’s long-awaited Iraq war study finds Iran was the only winner in a conflict that holds many lessons for future wars

Army Times – A two-volume Army study of the Iraq war is a deep examination of the mistakes and success of the war effort that also takes aim at critics who would slough off the conflict as they shift to near-peer threats.

The U.S. Army in the Iraq War – Volume 1: Invasion – Insurgency – Civil War, 2003-2006

The U.S. Army in the Iraq War — Volume 2: Surge and Withdrawal, 2007-2011

SOF’s Evolving Role: Warfare ‘By, With, and Through’ Local Forces

RAND – The role of U.S. special operations forces (SOF) in the Middle East has expanded steadily since the inception of the counter-ISIS campaign in 2014. In part, this expansion is due to the metastasis of ISIS into Libya, Yemen, and other countries beyond its major land-holding presence in Iraq and Syria. But the most notable feature of the expanded U.S. SOF role in the Middle East has been its work alongside indigenous forces in Iraq and Syria. Conventional and coalition forces provide additional numbers of troops. What makes this campaign so unusual is that U.S. forces are not providing the muscle of the frontline combat troops. Instead, the campaign is conducted “by, with, and through” others, a Special Forces phrase that the CENTCOM commander, General Joseph Votel, has adopted to call attention to this new way of warfighting. If the counter-ISIS campaign succeeds in dislodging ISIS from Iraq and Syria, this approach is more likely to be considered for other, similar conflicts.

America can succeed militarily in the Mideast. ISIS’s defeat in Mosul tells us how.

Washington Post – David Ignatius writes of what lessons can we take from the Islamic State’s defeat in Mosul and its coming eviction from Raqqa? The collapse of the caliphate tells us that the United States can succeed militarily in the Middle East if — and probably only if — it works with local forces who are prepared to do the fighting and dying.

ISIS has a navy? The US is sinking it

CNN – US and allied warplanes have sunk over 100 ISIS boats, destroying 65 of them in September alone, according to the international military coalition. While Iraq is nearly entirely land-locked, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that cross that country are navigable, and ISIS has been using watercraft for a variety of purposes, including transporting fighters and conducting improvised explosive attacks.\

C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons

New York Times – The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.

Iraq – No Regrets Over Pushing the US Into War With Iraq

Washington Post – David Ignatius interviews Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi, who was the most effective lobbyist in favor of the 2003 U.S. invasion: “So that’s how it ends — not with a bang or a whimper, either, but with a smooth valedictory from the man whom history will record as the secret instigator of the Iraq war, for which he has no apologies and, seemingly, no regrets.”

Iraq – The New Rules: 'Hard Lessons' from Iraq, for Afghanistan and Beyond

World Politics ReviewThe New Rules: ‘Hard Lessons’ from Iraq, for Afghanistan and Beyond

Thomas P.M. Barnett writes that the recurring theme of “Hard Lessons,” the recent report by the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, is that of somebody finally “taking charge.” The description is patently disproven, however, by the sheer volume of its use to describe the procession of all those who tried to do so. In fact, moving “from crisis to crisis,” and creating “ad hoc offices and systems” along the way, U.S. officials reinvented the Iraq wheel darn near annually.