The Antichrist’s Men Are Taking Over Iraq (Rev 13)

A Shi'ite fighter
Reuters A Shi’ite fighter from Saraya al-Salam, who are loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, sits in the back of a vehicle as he leaves from the holy city of Najaf in a convoy of vehicles heading to the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit to continue the offensive against Islamic State militants March 20, 2015.

Marine colonel: Here’s why the US is needed on the front lines in Iraq

Gary Anderson, a retired Marine Corps colonel, was the chief of staff of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab from 1998 to 2000.

This month, the Iraqi government launched an offensive against Islamic State fighters in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. Some 30,000 troops, two-thirds of which are members of Shiite militias guided by Iranian advisers, moved against a jihadist force estimated by the United States to number a few hundred.

The United States and its vaunted air power were not invited to the party. From the start, many observers assumed the success of the operation was a given, with news coverage focused less on whether Tikrit would fall and more on how victorious Shiite fighters would treat the city’s Sunni population.

But a funny thing happened on the way to this Iranian-led walkover. Tikrit still hasn’t fallen. Coffins carrying the bodies of Shiite militia members are being sent home in unexpected numbers, and regular Iraqi soldiers are showing a reluctance to fight in urban terrain against the tough light infantry of the Islamic State. That has surprised no one who worked and fought with the Iraqis in the past.
Urban warfare is not a business for amateurs. Even seasoned soldiers can flounder in urban canyons, as the United States learned in Hue City in Vietnam and Mogadishu in Somalia. The Russians were humiliated in Grozny during the Chechen conflict.
iraq soldier
Reuters An Iraqi soldier shoots his weapon during clashes with Islamic State militants in the Karma district of Anbar province, March 22, 2015.

The ill-disciplined Shiite mobs trying to retake Tikrit are getting the lesson in urban combat that the U.S. Marine Corps learned through the urban experimentation training we developed from 1994 to 2000. This project allowed our guys to come by their skills the relatively easy way — through the use of laser tag and simulated munitions — before they had to do it for real in Iraqi cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi. Unfortunately for the Iraqis, some of the Islamic State fighters now defending Tikrit are also veterans of those earlier Iraqi urban fights.
sunni shia iraq
Reuters

For years after the battle of Hue City in 1968, U.S. military planners emphasized avoiding urban combat by bypassing cities.

But following the disastrous 1993 battle in Mogadishu, retired Marine Maj. Gen. Mike Myatt argued that changing world demographics and other factors dictated that urban battles would increasingly become the norm, not the exception.

This spurred the Marine Corps to conduct a series of urban warfare experiments designed to improve our tactics and technological approach to urban combat.

I was one of the leaders in this experimentation, and our first experiences were humbling. After one experiment, I told a reporter flatly: “We suck at this.” But gradually we got better, and all the effort would pay off tremendously in the 2004 battles against al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the Islamic State, in Fallujah and Ramadi. We spent millions preparing for the urban fights we knew were coming; although the battles were costly, our professionalism and training won out.

Along the way, we found that well-trained combined-arms units consisting of armored vehicles, snipers and precision close air support could surgically suppress urban defenders without destroying the whole city in the process. We developed technologies that can eliminate fighters in one room without destroying the surrounding structure. Ramadi and Fallujah were still bloody affairs, but they were much less costly than they could have been. Our early training engagements resulted in simulated Marine casualties of upward of 70 percent; the actual casualty rate was less than 10 percent.
iraq
REUTERS/Thaier Al-SudaniShi’ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi walk as smoke rises from an explosives-laden military vehicle driven by an Islamic State suicide bomber which exploded during an attack on the southern edge of Tikrit March 12, 2015.
In Tikrit, by contrast, the Shiite-led mobs masquerading as Iraqi security forces are deep into the process of destroying the city in order to save it, as they employ a strategy of unleashing massive artillery barrages and airstrikes followed by amateurish frontal attacks. The experienced defenders they are trying to dislodge station snipers in the rubble and litter the battlefield with improvised explosives. This is the Battle of Stalingrad in miniature, and the Iraqi government will face more than a dozen more such challenges if it hopes to clear the country of the jihadists. The question will be whether it runs out of will before it runs out of fanatical Shiite militiamen.
Anyone who has seen both real and simulated urban combat knows that only experienced, well-trained troops will be able to oust the Islamic State from the Iraqi and Syrian cities it has infested. This is the hard truth: U.S.-trained Iraqi troops and Syrian rebels may be able to hold those cities once they are cleared, but only Americans are capable of defeating the Islamic State in close urban combat.

This article originally appeared at The Washington Post. Copyright 2015. Follow The Washington Post on Twitter.

The Dangerous Iranian Horn (Daniel 8)

Iran more dangerous to Iraq than ISIS: U.S. terror experts

Iran-nuclear-deal
JAMES WARREN

Iran presents a far greater threat to Iraq’s future than ISIS terrorists, experts told U.S. senators Tuesday.

An ideologically divergent group left the Armed Services Committee with little doubt that the ISIS threat will ultimately diminish, but Iran will maintain its ability “to dominate the region.”

“It has a greater ability to control the region and sustain that control if allowed to do so,” testified Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution as he compared Iran, ISIS and Al Qaeda.

The hearing chaired by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) underscored fears about Iran’s historic clout in the region, the persisting weakness of the Iraq government and doubts about ongoing international bargaining over Iran’s nuclear program.

Ray Takeyh, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations, noted the tricky reality of Iran training Iraqi Shia militia, presumably for the ongoing domestic conflict in Iraq against ISIS.

His fear, he told the panel, is an Iranian ulterior motive of training them for “transnational purposes,” meaning as “the ISIS threat diminishes, they may have plans for them to operate in Syria and beyond the boundaries of Iraq.”

Both Pollack and Takeyh sought to slightly qualify their views of Iran by saying that its regional influence is not necessarily a permanent reality.

But to avoid it being so, an array of changes must place.

Those include a dramatic beefing up of the potency of the current Iraqi government via more U.S. military and civilian help, as well as somehow avoiding Iran producing nuclear weapons.

The consensus was that the latter might just be a pipe dream, and that ongoing nuke talks led by the U.S. can avoid that prospect.

Iran will likely get a nuke whether or not there is an agreement in the ongoing talks, said Retired Army Col. Derek Harvey, who was in charge of an internal think tank on Afghanistan and Pakistan at U.S. Central Command.

Dafna Rand, a deputy director of studies at the Center for a New American Security, said the question was no longer Iran’s nuclear intentions.

Instead, the key matter is whether the rest of the world can somehow use a mix of export controls, sabotage and economic sanctions “to provide obstacles to those intentions.”

And, she said, “The logic for waiting for a better deal has a lot of holes in it.”

Russian Nuclear Horn Threatens Babylon and NATO (Dan 7)

Russia-nuclearRussia: US Must remove Its Nuclear Weapons From Europe

Tuesday, 24 Mar 2015 09:07 AM

Russia called for a ban on American nuclear weapons in parts of Europe, saying the U.S. is breaking an international agreement by holding joint nuclear training missions with NATO allies that don’t possess such weapons.

Using ships and airfields as well as training crews from non-nuclear states from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in such exercises is “in direct contradiction to the letter and spirit” of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on its website.

“There can be only one solution,” Lukashevich said. Russia is calling for “the return of all nonstrategic nuclear weapons” to U.S. territory as well as “a ban on stationing them abroad, elimination of infrastructure for their rapid deployment, and denial of training for the preparation and use of nuclear weapons” by the militaries of non-nuclear states.

The dispute flared as relations between Russia and the U.S. and NATO are at their worst since the Cold War over the conflict in Ukraine. Deployment of U.S. nuclear weapons on the territories of NATO allies “is consistent with the NPT” and the treaty doesn’t prohibit such basing and planning arrangements, which were in place before it came into force in 1970, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on March 19.

Pakistan Prepping Tactical Nukes (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan wants short-range nuclear weapons

Pakistani military personnel stand beside a short-range surface to surface NASR missile system during the Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad, March 23, 2015. Getty
WASHINGTON Pakistan needs short-range “tactical” nuclear weapons to deter arch-rival India, a top adviser to its government said Monday, dismissing concerns it could increase the risk of a nuclear war.

Khalid Kidwai also rejected concerns over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, insisting that adequate safeguards are in place to protect what analysts have described as the world’s fastest-growing atomic arsenal.

Pakistan’s development of smaller warheads built for use on battlefields, in addition to longer-range weapons, has increased international concerns that they could get into rogue hands because of the pervasive threat of Islamic militants in the country.

Pakistan and its larger neighbor India have fought three wars. They have held on-off peace talks over the years but are involved in a nuclear and missile arms race that shows no sign of abating.

Neither side discloses the size of its arsenal. But a recent report by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank estimated that Pakistan has enough fissile material to produce between 110 and 120 nuclear weapons, and India enough for 90 to 110 weapons.

For 15 years, Kidwai led the administration of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile weapons program. He now serves as an adviser to the National Command Authority, a committee of the top civilian and military leaders that sets the country’s nuclear weapons policy. He spoke Monday at a conference on nuclear security organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

On the sidelines of the conference, Rakesh Sood, former Indian special envoy for disarmament and nonproliferation, said it was “extremely destabilizing for any country to develop tactical nuclear weapons” and that India has no plans to. He contended that Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is “cloaked in ambiguity” which undermines confidence between the two countries.

Kidwai said nuclear deterrence had helped prevent war in South Asia. He said Pakistan’s development of tactical weapons — in the form of the Nasr missile, which has a 37-mile range — was in response to concerns that India’s larger military could still wage a conventional war against the country, thinking Pakistan would not risk retaliation with a bigger nuclear weapon.

Peter Lavoy, a former senior U.S. defense official, questioned whether such intermingling of conventional forces and nuclear weapons in a battlefield could increase the risk of nuclear war.

Kidwai replied that having tactical weapons would make war less likely.

He said given the strength of the rest of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the fear of “mutually assured destruction” of the South Asian rivals would ensure that “sanity prevails.”

At the other end of Pakistan’s missile inventory is the Shaheen-III missile that it test-fired this month. It has a range of 1,700 miles, giving it the capability to reach every part of India – but also potentially to reach into the Middle East, including Israel.

Kidwai said Pakistan wanted a missile of that range because it suspected India was developing strategic bases on its Andaman and Nicobar islands in the Bay of Bengal. He said the nuclear and missile program was “India-specific” and not aimed at other countries.

India and Pakistan have not fought a major conflict since 1999, when Pakistani military infiltrated into an Indian-held area of disputed Kashmir called Kargil, sparking fighting that left hundreds dead on both sides. Tensions, however, have sometimes escalated dangerously since then. In 2008, Pakistan-based militants attacked India’s commercial hub of Mumbai, killing 164 people.

Babylon the Great (USA) Aiding Antichrist (Rev 13)

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US-led surveillance planes are providing intel on the town where Iran-backed militias are fighting ISIS

The U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group has begun surveillance flights over the extremist-held city of Tikrit and sending intelligence to Iraqi forces fighting to retake Saddam Hussein’s hometown, a senior official said Tuesday.

The flights and intelligence sharing, which began Saturday, mark the first time the coalition has been involved in the offensive, which up to now largely has been supported by Iranian advisers including Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of the powerful Revolutionary Guard Quds Force.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to journalists about the matter, said the support began at the request of the Iraqi government. He declined to comment on whether they are providing airstrikes, saying he cannot discuss current or future operations.

He also declined to discuss whether U.S. forces were directly communicating with Iranians on the ground there. U.S. officials repeatedly have said they are not in contact with Iranians in Iraq
Iraqi security forces, backed by Iranian-supported Shiite militias, launched a large-scale offensive to recapture Tikrit earlier this month. The U.S. previously had said that the Iraqi government never asked them to participate in the campaign.

A senior Iraqi military official said that coalition is not providing airstrikes in support of the Tikrit operation at this time, but launched airstrikes in the nearby oil refinery town of Beiji on Tuesday. He added that Soleimani has just left Tikrit after providing front-line assistance and advising since the start of the operation.

“He will come back if we need him to,” said the Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to brief journalists.
stratfor tikrit
Courtesy of Stratfor

Tikrit, the capital of Salahuddin province, lies about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of Baghdad. It is one of the largest cities held by Islamic State militants and lies on the road connecting Baghdad to Mosul. Retaking it will help Iraqi forces have a major supply link for any future operation to retake Mosul, the country’s second-largest city.

U.S. military officials have that said a coordinated military mission to retake Mosul likely will begin in April or May and involve up to 25,000 Iraqi troops. But the Americans have cautioned that if the Iraqis are not ready, the offensive could be delayed.