The following is an excerpt from the new SOFREP eBook The ISIS Solution, which will be published on November 18th. The book is available for pre-orders from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. For those who do pre-order, we will be running a raffle for some cool items and $100 credit for the upcoming SOFREP store! -Jack
Strategy is the overall plan of action to achieve a measurable goal. It is the series of actions on a theater-wide scale that contribute to victory or defeat. While ISIS has released several documents and videos giving some ideas of its strategy, even more can be determined by examining their targets, their actions in multiple spectrums of warfare, politics, and information, and their history.
ISIS has stated its goals in several places, including the recent propaganda video Flames of War. At the beginning of Flames, the narrator states that ISIS is “a mission that would herald the return to the khilafah [caliphate] and revive the creed of tawheed [monotheism/Islam]. It was the establishment of the Islamic State nourished by the blood of the truthful mujahideen to unite the ummah [referring to the entire Islamic religion] on one calling, one banner, one leader.”
The goal of pretty much every violent Islamist group has been the establishment of an Islamic State. This was a stated goal of AQI before it became ISIS, and before it declared itself actually to have achieved the goal of creating such a state in 2014, when it changed its name again to simply the Islamic State, and declared Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be “Caliph Ibrahim,” a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. (Although the man behind the kunyah [alias] of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have been born in Samarra, not Baghdad.)
From 2003 to 2012, AQI/ISI was unable to go head-to-head with the conventional Coalition forces in Iraq. As a result, their strategy was limited by their logistics and available combat power. They attacked Coalition forces with mostly indirect fires and improvised explosive devices, while simultaneously attacking infrastructure, conducting terror operations to dissuade the populace from supporting the Coalition-backed Iraqi government and to demonstrate the inadequacy of both that government and the Coalition forces to keep them safe, and attacking the Iraqi Security Forces and government officials in order to break down the government’s resistance by way of terror and assassination.
Improvised explosive devices (a fancy term for what had been called “bombs” for decades of terrorist attacks up until 2003 Iraq) began appearing, targeting American and British vehicles, shortly after the collapse of Saddam’s Iraqi Army. Initially constructed primarily from the leftover military munitions that Saddam’s people had cached all over the country, they were effective terror weapons that had a similar effect on Coalition forces as the booby traps employed by the Vietcong in Vietnam in the 1960s and early ’70s. In fact, some of them were set up identically; a report from 1967 described a landing zone near Da Nang that the Viet Cong had sown with 155mm artillery shells to be detonated by command wire. Most of the early IEDs were more 155mm artillery shells set off on command by simple electrical detonators, triggered by an insurgent watching from nearby.
The IEDs, coupled with mortar and rocket attacks, all of which could be placed and triggered easily, followed by the emplacers and triggermen getting away quickly and unencumbered, were designed to wear down the occupying forces. Without the combat power to defeat an adversary in a stand-up fight, the militant turns to bleeding him slowly. It is a death by a thousand cuts, with each cut being a dead or maimed soldier or Marine.