Now that the Obama administration is safely away from the White House, get ready for the series of stories on how they were just on the verge of kicking major ISIS ass when time ran out and they gave the Trump administration the secret key to victory but those idiots just wouldn’t take use it.
This is an example of what is in store:
Planning for the final assault on Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s caliphate, had been grinding on for more than seven months. There had been dozens of meetings of President Barack Obama’s top national security team, scores of draft battle plans and hundreds of hours of anguished, late-night debates.
There were no good options, but Obama’s top foreign policy advisers were convinced that they had finally settled on an approach that could work — arming Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, current and former U.S. officials said. There was just one problem: The Obama team had deliberated for so long that there was little time left to pull the trigger. Trump’s advisers had also sent word that they wanted to make the decision.
So on Jan. 17, just three days before the transfer of power, Obama directed his national security adviser to hand over to the Trump team a paper detailing the plan to arm the Kurds, including talking points that President Trump could use to explain the move to Turkey’s president, who officials knew would be furious. The Turks viewed the Kurdish fighters as terrorists and their No. 1 enemy.
Obama hoped that his last-minute preparations would clear the way for Trump to authorize a swift assault on the Islamic State’s most important stronghold, where U.S. intelligence officials say militants are plotting attacks outside Syria.
Instead of running with the plan, Trump’s national security team deemed it wholly insufficient and swiftly tossed it.
Oh sh**, oh dear. This is just awful. The Obama administration had a plan but the Trump people just ignored it.
Okay. Not really.
The first tell here is that the plan wasn’t good enough to undertake while Obama was in the White House, so they stalled and waited until the new guys arrived and tried to get permission to kick it off (we launched the winning attack!!) and hand the guaranteed failure on the Trump administration (Russian lackies! Alt-righters! Idiots!)
Without the actual plan you don’t know what the level of detail was involved in the planning. To put it all in perspective, though, planning for D-Day started in January of 1944 so the Obama administration took longer on this than the Allies took to plan the invasion of France.
Of course, the second tell in this story is that the planning was being carried out at the tactical level in the White House. How much military experience in theater, or in general, do you think was involved? I’m guessing that “not much” is an overstatement.
Key points. Raqqa is about 40 miles from Kurdish territory. It is pretty obvious from the map that the natural lines of drift are all East-West. This is why Kurd and ISIS territory is elongated. Google Earth shows that you have about two North-South routes that can support a logistics main supply route. Most of the roads run East-West. The implication is that any force attacking from the North will be forced down a very narrow avenue of approach while road networks facilitate the transfer for ISIS forces from East and West. So while the Kurds would have difficult fully using their combat power because of a narrow frontage, both their flanks would be cut by several high speed roads.
Upon even cursory examination, one is struck by the implausibility of the entire concept.
First, we have to arm the Kurds with sufficient power to overmatch ISIS but not so much as to make the Turks decide the Kurds are more of a threat than ISIS… hell, the Turks are basically there already.
Next, you have to convince the Kurds to devote troops being used to protect their homes, families and territory to attack Raqqa.
Raqqa, itself, is meaningless. The operation against ISIS is force-oriented, not terrain-orient. In other words you are focused on killing and demoralizing ISIS fighters because they are not dependent upon a piece of real estate for their existence. The Obama brain trust has obviously convinced themselves that taking Raqqa will be like Napoleon marching through the Brandenburg Gate. It won’t be.
Lastly, there is this gem:
[Secretary of Defense Ashton] Carter argued that the Kurds understood that they would have to turn Raqqa over to local Arab forces as soon as the Islamic State was defeated.
You read that correctly. These morons believed that the Kurds were going to expend their blood and put their homes and families at risk to take Raqqa and immediately relinquish it to people who didn’t even fight there. What are the odds of this happening? What are the odds of the Kurds accepting the weapons and training and then deciding to not get killed taking real estate they won’t keep?
And when you read deeper you find that the planning for this operation didn’t really get underway until December:
For two years inside the Pentagon, Turkey’s promises of sending rebels and later its own troops were viewed with deep skepticism and derisively dubbed “Erdogan’s ghosts” or the “unicorn” army, according to current and former defense officials. Carter and other defense officials worried that Dunford’s response gave the White House another reason to delay a decision.
By late 2016, Dunford had concluded that the Turks would not produce the forces to retake Raqqa. With less than three weeks left in the Obama administration, Dunford and Carter submitted a formal request to arm the Kurds for the assault with armored vehicles, antitank weapons, Russian-made machine guns and mine-clearing equipment.
The Pentagon pushed for an immediate decision, warning that if the Kurds did not receive the equipment by mid-February, their offensive on Raqqa would stall. A decision not to arm the Kurds could delay the Raqqa operation by up to a year, U.S. officials warned.
So actually there was never any plan and the Obama White House had spent a year attempting — attempting without success — to jerk itself off.
But it gets better.
Not only were the Turks totally hostile to the plan and the Kurds hadn’t signed onto it:
The Obama plan required U.S. forces to train the Kurds in using the new equipment and fighting in a densely packed city, but it lacked details about how many U.S. troops would be required and where the training would take place, the Trump administration official said. Trump officials said they were dismayed that there was no provision for coordinating operations with Russia and no clear political strategy for mollifying the Turks.
Nor were there contingency plans if the Kurdish attack stalled, the senior Trump administration official said.
“What bothered us most of all was that there was no Plan B,” the Trump official said.
To the Trump team, it seemed that Obama administration officials had delayed authorizing the plan because they knew it was inadequate and did not want to be held responsible, the official said.
A senior Obama administration official said the criticism was unfounded and a sign of the new White House’s “intelligence insecurity.” In addition to the short memo that Rice gave Flynn, the outgoing administration left a thick package of supplemental material, the Obama official said.
Most of the shortcomings outlined by the Trump team were obvious to Obama’s advisers, he added. In fact, the senior Obama administration official said, arming the Kurds was Obama’s Plan B, after it became clear that Plan A — using Turkish forces to take Raqqa — would not be feasible.
You know, a truly f***ed up Plan B really isn’t better than a non-operational Plan A. When you’re talking about sending men out to die, “we have to do something” isn’t a good plan. Then you have this surreal scene:
Everyone in the Situation Room that day agreed on the need to consult with the Trump team. There was no point taking such a consequential step if the new president might reverse it.
At the end of the meeting, Rice thanked everyone for their hard work and led a champagne toast.
Shortly afterward, Rice spoke to retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, her counterpart in the incoming administration, about the proposal.
“Don’t approve it,” Flynn responded, according to two former officials briefed on the exchange. “We’ll make the decision.”
Rice prepared briefing papers for Flynn, emphasizing the importance of moving quickly to arm the Kurds.
Obama told a small group of aides that he would personally discuss the importance of the matter with Trump on the morning of the inauguration, possibly in the limousine on the way to the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony.
“Welcome to the NBA,” Obama said he planned to tell his successor, according to officials present.
“Welcome to the NBA.” More like welcome to WWE or to that crappy team that used to get its ass beat by the Harlem Globetrotters.
Let’s review the bidding.
We don’t have a buy in from the people who are supposed to provide the forces.
Our major regional and alleged NATO ally, Turkey, is totally hostile
The forces we’re going to use have yet to be trained or equipped.
It is highly doubtful the Kurds can put together the logistics needed to supply an attack over 40-mile axis of advance.
The forces we’re going to use have nothing to gain by attacking Raqqa… but a lot to gain by pretending they are going to.
Raqqa, itself, is a meaningless sh**hole.
Even Samantha Power thought it was a totally messed up idea.
And these clowns are bitching because Flynn either laughed in their face or should have.