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Lessons from the syrian war

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Quintus Dias of Manticore Group research notes for radio presentation

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Lessons from the syrian war

  1. 1. 1 LESSONS FROM THE SYRIAN WAR & ISIS By Quintus Dias 1. The war is a social media war. ISIS extensively uses social media (You Tube, Twitter, Face Book and other venues) to promulgate its values, to show its progress, to raise funds, to recruit fighters. ISIS uses front groups to run websites and social media accounts keeping its identity hidden. These social media accounts are global in scope. ISIS uses propagandists to tailor messages to various audiences. ISIS uses smart phones, computers, and extensive social media networks to communicate news, spread is messages, and to attract new members. 2. Financial, Logistical Support, Recruits. ISIS receives funds, supplies and logistical support from a global network of supporters. The principal support networks are: (1) Mosques throughout the world, (2) Muslim charities, (3) Loot from Syrian homes, business, precious artifacts, and oil sold in Turkey, (4) taxes from controlled areas, (5) Saudi government sources, (6) American government sources, (7) Qatari sources, (8) Chechen sources, (9) Indonesian sources. Recruits come from:  The United States and England (Muslim communities)  Europe from Islamic communities  Indonesia and the Philippines  Central Asia: Tadjiks, Uzbeks, Kazakhs  The ME: Saudis, Iraqis, Qataris, Syrians  Africa: Somalis, Moroccans, Libyans, Egyptians 3. Training. Most recruits have little military experience. Persons with military experiences are highly valued and are frequently kidnapped and impressed to fight against their will. Military training consists of:
  2. 2. 2  Thirty to 45 days basic combat training: Weapons, basic tactics and tactical formations, marksmanship  Night fighting  Cover and concealment  Basic MOUT: breaching and entry, room clearing, reinforcing buildings, observation, use of mines and explosives  Heavy religious indoctrination and propaganda  Route marches, and assault formations  Three man fire teams  RPGs 4. Weapons and Equipments: ISIS uses American and former Soviet bloc infantry weapons. ISIS combines desert or woodland pattern uniforms with black smocks, turbans and face masks. Many of the fighters wear a mixture of civilian and military clothing. ISIS has access to tanks, APCs, rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons and to light and medium artillery. ISIS manufactures IEDs using pressure vessels such as propane cylinders and artillery shells that are pressure switch or command detonated by electrical signal battery circuits and or are cell phone activated. The use of ballistic plate carriers and ballistic vests are increasing. ISIS fighters are mandated by Imams to wear helmets and vest protective gear. ISIS manufactures improvised heavy mortars up to 208MM caliber. They use pressure vessels: gas canisters, propane cylinders, fire extinguishers as mortar shells. They use improvised low order explosives such as mixtures of ammonium nitrate in fertilizer prills combined with natural gas and diesel fuel. Improvised mortar shells are finned and have contact fuses obtained from artillery shells. Some mortars have multiple barrels and are mounted on tractors. Sighting equipment is rudimentary or by eye.
  3. 3. 3 ISIS uses truck bed mounted recoilless rifles up to 120MM or individuals carry 57 and 75 MM rifles for mobile operations. ISIS uses Soviet era MRS artillery rockets up to 120 MM and small multiple barrel mortars firing 107 or 76MM rockets much like the German Nebelwerfers of WWII fame. ISIS also uses NVDs-night vision binoculars or goggles obtained through front company supply or from captured enemy stocks.  M16s (5.56X 45)  RPK squad automatics, AK47 rifles (7.62X39)  PK and PKM machine guns (7.62X54R)  Soviet pattern hand grenades  Soviet pattern 60MM and 81MM  Improvised 120 MM mortars  123MM and 130MM field artillery  Egyptian, Soviet bloc handguns in 9MM and 7.62X25 MM  Heavy AA automatic weapons (.51 cal, 23MM, 57MM). These are extensively used as mobile “Technicals” mounted in AA swivel mounts (some are powered) in the beds of pickup trucks on flat bed trucks  Drones (quadra rotors, Israeli and French RPVs)  Binoculars and field artillery glasses Effectiveness and Deficiencies ISIS has numerous deficiencies as a fighting force. They basically act as a gang. They are very dangerous to be sure, but they rest on terror operations, propaganda and deceptions to leverage combat power. Some of the more outstanding deficits are-  Poor noise discipline. Officers and noncoms constantly yell at each other
  4. 4. 4  Poor fire discipline. ISIS combatants do a lot of spraying on automatic fire and waste much ammunition  Poor route march formations. They use badly spaced or inappropriate combat formations on approach to contact or in assaults in open and in urban terrain  Poor laying of artillery fires. They fire indiscriminately all over the place and cause lots of collateral damage. They do not appear to use artillery spotters or forward observers  Poor staying power. ISIS is a gang with little reserves of anything. They have little staying power and are known to focus on hit and then run  They can be fanatical, but fanaticism is a poor substitute for common sense or good military strategy or tactics  They brutalize people and commit many atrocities which loses them vital public support  Poor use of natural terrain and defilades to approach targets. Poor use of camouflage. Black uniforms, gear and rifles make them stand out 5. Security and Road Access and Control. ISIS makes extensive use of Google Earth, satellite imagery and topo maps to delineate objectives, areas of control and road net access. They use imagery to plan campaigns and assaults. They carefully denote key terrain, road and trail junctions and areas likely to provide: food, water, supplies, and useful industrial products.  They set up and maintain roadblocks  They issue civilian ID to residents’ and maintain ID registries  They set up surprise checkpoints, and confirm IDs with base  They check vehicles for useful items and confiscate contraband  They execute anyone without proper ID or suspected of being spies, smugglers or unapproved foreigners  They frequently issue new ID to residents
  5. 5. 5  Security is tough, extensive and ruthless in ISIS controlled areas. They may use double security check points  No movement is allowed at night, except to approved civilians or to designated ISIS fighters  Anyone showing nervousness, sarcasm, resistance, improper ID is immediately arrested and may be executed at a nearby ditch 6. Intelligence Operations, Rear Area Security, Population Control. Isis maintains surveillance and imposes heavy restrictions on the civilian population. They may move only at designated times. They are not allowed to leave work or to travel without permits. ISIS surveys and surveils social media networks for intelligence and to spot possible traitors and infiltrators. They use special militia units to maintain rear area security. Free expression is not allowed. Unauthorized meetings are suspect and may warrant a visit by ISIS agents. Security and Intelligence is provided by:  Patrols in residential areas and on the trails between villages and on the roads  Checkpoints: some are mobile. All travelers must have and show proper ID on demand  Roadblocks covered by fighters and machine guns. Vehicles and passengers are inspected  ISIS uses deception in intelligence operations. They dress operatives in enemy uniforms, infiltrate an area and question residents- (1) have you alerted authorities about terrorists? (2) Are you in the military? (3) Who is your commander? (4) What is your faith? (5) Show me your ID! (6) Who is in your unit? Their names and addresses? Once the operatives obtain that information it is relayed to HQ and then ISIS immediately executes anyone providing information wrt (1- 6). This is done out of sight of village or town residents.
  6. 6. 6  Executions are blamed on bandits or on entire families wavering in support of ISIS  Public beheadings are frequent and used as a terror weapon to cow the population  ISIS is a theocracy. Imams’ are used to maintain religious fervor and the ISIS state power structure through heavy indoctrination and imposition of Sharia law  Residents are forced to watch executions or the executioners handiwork and killers are exulted as public heroes  ISIS appears to rely on NAZI SS counterinsurgency tactics to identify resisters, traitors and evaders of the impressment gangs. They also use informants to identify opposition cadres, and spies based on the Phoenix program or the SS Einsatzsgruppen doctrine  All suspected spies, infiltrators, members of resistant cells or groups are interrogated, tortured and publicly executed 7. Indoctrination, Refugee Streams and the Caliphate ISIS aims at establishing all Muslims under a global theocracy manifested as a Caliphate. Some of its known features are:  Only Muslims adhering to the Salafi, Sunni faiths are acceptable  Christians, Alawites, Jews, Shia and other sects are considered infidels and must be killed  The Caliphate is to be reestablished first in Syria and then in the Al Andalus (Spain) and then it will go global with branches in Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, the Central Asian states and part of Western China  ISIS uses Imams’ and religious teachers to indoctrinate the population in group meetings, prayer sites and over the radio and television  Young boys are indoctrinated into ISIS fundamentalism. The boys are exposed to gruesome executions and may be used as
  7. 7. 7 executioners of perceived traitors and enemy prisoners. They are rewarded for carrying out executions and hailed as public heroes  Young boys are sent to military units to learn basic soldiering skills and then are transferred to several units for operations and further schooling  Girls are also the subject of heavy indoctrination. They are counseled to marry young ISIS fighters, to bear children, and to provide food and medical aid  ISIS fighters are subjected to a constant stream of propaganda, religious exhortations, and Salafi Muslim teachings. They are expected to be conversant with the Koran and the life and lessons of the Prophet. Democratic and or republican values are considered evil beyond the pale  ISIS fighters are expected to “martyr” themselves on command and to participate in suicide missions. Girls now are being used in suicide missions and in assassinations Muslim refugees from Middle Eastern (ME) or African or Asian conflict zones are regarded as political, subversive and immigration warfare weapons by ISIS. Many refugees in Europe are military-aged males. Informants have supplied intelligence to Europe that many are former fighters with extensive combat training and or experience in the ME. The refugees receive support from-  George Soros and his NGO groups  Muslim community agencies  The EU and member states, principally Germany, Sweden, Holland and England  Saudi Arabia Muslim Refugees- Muslim refugees have adversely impacted European economies, increased racial, religious, sexual, cultural tensions to the breaking point.
  8. 8. 8 The refugees have created a tremendous backlash in Europe, Asia and in the United States in creating intense opposition to refugee transit, resettlement and in welfare benefits. Muslim refuges have been ordered not to integrate, to marry and bear numerous children and to seal off their communities from outsiders. Many of these Muslim communities supply recruits for Muslim terror cells and commit many crimes against the host population and take part in atrocious mass casualty terror operations. European women are frequent targets of mass rapes committed openly in public. Moreover, Muslim based crime rates are rising-  Germany and Sweden lead Europe now in sexual assaults and rapes. Most are committed by Muslim males in roving gangs  Assaults. Muslim gangs frequently assault intruders inside their communities  Murders. Muslim males operating in gangs have committed murders inside and outside of their communities  Property thefts. It is not unusual for Muslim males operating in gang packs to spill out of their communities and to invade homes, stores and to loot passerby and taxi drivers 8. Resistance to ISIS and the Global Caliphate, Perceptions. Resistance to ISIS globally is increasing. In Syria and in Iraq the KURDS pose a formidable resistance to ISIS. Militia units in Kurdistan are well-equipped and trained. They maintain over watch on smuggler trails and access routes out of Kurd-controlled areas in Iraq and in Syria. The population largely displays passive resistance-going along to survive. In other areas, active resistance to ISIS is fierce and determined. Resistance organizations-  The FSA (Free Syrian Army). This organization composed of moderate rebels against Assad has now turned against ISIS
  9. 9. 9  The Regular Syrian Army. The army is very well trained, determined and well equipped by Russia with most tactical and strategic military weapons including the use of: helicopters, aircraft, transports, tanks (T-55s and T-72s), light and heavy artillery up to 130MM and most small arms. Uniforms are desert or woodland pattern and of US, Russian and or local manufactures  The Desert Eagle Militia. This unit is very well trained and serves as light infantry in protecting the regular Syrian army in MOUT or area clearing operations. They also serve as rear area and road security units. They are well armed with light weapons, wear woodland pattern uniforms, and use AA and heavy machine guns mounted on pickup trucks as mobile fire support. They wear yellow ribbon streamers to identify themselves. Their morale is high and the population adores them. Many appear to be well-adjusted and committed older males. The Russians regard them highly.  Militia alliances. Ethnic Syrians-Assyrians, the Kurds, Jews and Christians have formed protective alliances and maintain control of town and village based militias that are fairly well equipped with light weapons and radios. They maintain roving patrols, man checkpoints and liaise with the regular army units and provide intelligence on Al Qaeda and on ISIS. Syrian infantry carry basic Soviet era pattern weapons, basic combat loads, load bearing gear, canteens, assault packs, combat boots, helmets and wear boonie hats in open terrain. Regular infantry are trained in MOUT operations, using tanks and artillery and also rely on improvised light automatic weapons (up to 57MM on pickup trucks). They appear well-equipped, determined and their morale is good. Their equipment and uniforms, persons appear clean, serviceable, and orderly. Russia-
  10. 10. 10 Russia’s timely intervention appears to have saved the day for Assad and for the RSA. Russia’s goals were limited in scope and centered on training, resupply, and in providing massive air support to interdict ISIS convoy routes, to fracture its cohesion in rear areas and in degrading its overall fighting ability and finally to prevent ISIS from selling Syrian oil and loot in Turkey to raise funds. Russian military and civil operations featured-  Good planning and coordination with the RSA and militia units  Limited and achievable objectives  Good relations with the RSA, the government and the local population  Extensive use of the world press to denote and portray ISIS as bandits, the USA as responsible for the rise of ISIS and global Muslim terror, and fairly impartial news reporting by RT News and other media outlets aimed at the West  Expert and nuanced diplomacy by Russian leaders and military officers. Russian diplomatic efforts ran circles around the EU and the Obama Administration leaving them flustered, frequently incoherent and without a vision to counter the Russian initiative in the ME  President Putin received global acclaim as a knowledgeable and able leader and favorably presented Russia as a reliable ally and partner Russian air support and military supplies and training have turned the Syrian military around-  Russian air support and supplies provided a well needed breathing space to the RSA (Regular Syrian Army)  Russian air support badly fractured Al Qaeda and ISIS networks and degraded their combat effectiveness
  11. 11. 11  The RSA, now better equipped, and organized has cleared with Russian help large areas of Syria from the enemy and is increasingly aggressive in combating ISIS in isolated areas and in the Latakia mountains  The RSA works well with militia units. There are good relations between the RSA men and officers. The RSA treats the population well. The RSA and militia are regarded as saviors by the population  The Assad government IS NOT regarded as oppressive by the people. Instead of fleeing, many Syrians have decided to stay and to join a militia and or the RSA to fight ISIS.  ISIS and Al Qaeda are heavily criticized for terrorizing and murdering Syrians and are increasingly seen as nothing more than opportunistic bandits and looters Summation ISIS is an organized criminal or mafia gang based on terror and relentless fanatical approaches to using power in gaining access to and holding sway over captive populations in the ME. Their initial gains were impressive until the regular Syrian Army and militia units understood how they were organized, equipped, trained and how they fought. ISIS understands the old terror dictum of killing one and terrorizing thousands. But it does not seem to understand that this works only for a limited time. ISIS does not have the support of the majority of the Syrian people. Former fighters have quit in disgust and blown the whistle on what they really are…criminals and bandits organized and led by US proxies- mainly Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel. Their military prowess is questionable and at times extremely poor. As a combat force they have poor fighting and staying power. They do well enough against unarmed people or small groups. But when up against
  12. 12. 12 professional military units or well-trained militia units they have little staying power and mostly flee to rear areas, leaving much valuable equipment behind. Jihadi leaders are beginning to realize that spiritual power is good, but material power and knowing how to use it is just as critical. Prayers to Allah in the end do not replace bullets well shot. ISIS leadership and their sponsors should be arrested and tried for numerous war crimes, crimes against humanity, for destroying priceless cultural and religious artifacts, and for the pitiless slaughter of men, women and children, who harmed nobody. Finally, the Syrian people have displayed remarkable courage and resilience in dealing with ISIS. They deserve the respect and support of all righteous people. They can be proud of their military and militia units who fight for Syria and their remarkable culture and ancient civilization. Being Muslim has nothing to do with it. Being a good human being does. Syrians have long practiced a live and let live philosophy and “let’s enjoy each other.” That is an excellent rule and foundation for good living among ethnic populations anywhere in the world. We Americans should heed that well and return to the old ways that served us so well as a diverse people. Russia has proved to the world that it will not condone terror from any one, much less organized Muslim bandits. They have shown remarkable patience and skill in fighting ISIS. Their equipment is first-rate and so are their military skills. Putin is perhaps the best politician on the world stage today and he conducted a masterful campaign in Syria. We should respect Russia for that and seek its willingness to help rid the world of terrorists and other thugs. Moreover, American military practitioners and militia units should heed the lessons of the Syrian Army and its militia units. American military and National Guard, and other militia units have nothing to fear from ISIS. In fact, most unorganized American militia units, if they use their heads could wipe the floor with ISIS fighters.
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