The clowns of Mesopotamia, or ISIL, get credit by way of their victories in the Middle East. They soared the Iraqi countryside and stopped short of Baghdad. It’s doubtful they could take Baghdad, which is the center of gravity of Iraq. That’s why when U.S. forces invaded they made a B-line for Baghdad and used whatever resources it took to win – because Baghdad is that important. However, it’s the neglect of the remainder of Iraq that, in some respects, have aided ISIL to rise.  Also, their victories – instead of sparking fear – should be an exposure of the fleeting state of security in Middle Eastern nation states.

In fact, it appears that Syria had a robust army after all. They never received U.S. training. How much does third party training do for a nation without a strong national identity. The Iraqis do not feel as though they have a country. Because, if they did, they would have defended it. When I was in Iraq, during an in-between for the Office of Security Cooperation – Iraq, their medics in remote outposts had a single aid bag. I brought the medics from around the country into the Iraqi Special Operations Forces for training and asked them to bring the equipment they used. The one aid bag that showed up from a northern post was barely stocked. It looked more like a backpack filled with wrappers after a camping trip. We use better-stocked bags for training the Afghan Local Police in Afghanistan.

When ISIL made its push into Iraq, I was in the region watching the events unfold on television. It was a worrisome time. I knew then that the main line of defense would come to the Iraqi Special Operations Forces. Even still, politics and attitudes in Iraq are not conducive to fighting a war. It’s in turmoil and has been for some time. They need to rebuild their identity and find pride in their country before they care what happens to it. This is the underlying reason ISIL was able to roll through Iraq in such dramatic fashion – there was no resistance.

Since then, it has been the ISOF that has taken the fight to ISIL, and they’re scoring some victories and will continue to do so over time. ISIL has been successful in some other theatres, and has been winning in their mini-war with the rebels. If you can call it that, they mostly avoid one another. Then, there’s the U.S. backed forces who remain somewhat of a mystery to many and tracking their effectiveness outside of news stories is difficult. ISIL is the child of neglect, and they’re making serious cries for attention. In fact, their propaganda and the ideological draw is their primary weapon system, and that proved to be an effective one.

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