Streetwise Professor

May 4, 2015

The Return of the Five O’Clock Follies? The Military Is Risking Its Credibility In the War On ISIS

Filed under: Military,Politics — The Professor @ 4:07 pm

The US military’s credibility is at serious risk due to its don’t-worry-be-happy disclosures about the war against ISIS. Much independent reporting today strongly suggests that ISIS is in control of a substantial portion of the Baiji refinery, and that the small Iraqi garrison is in danger of being overrun: and you know what ISIS does when that happens. But the military’s Kevin Bacon-esque take couldn’t be more different:

 While Beiji and Ramadi in Iraq remain contested between Iraqi security forces and extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant militants, ISIL is experiencing setbacks, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Friday.

If things are going so swimmingly  in Baiji, why the relatively intense air activity there today?:

Near Bayji, eight airstrikes struck one large and five small ISIL tactical units, destroying five ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL buildings, an ISIL command and control facility, an ISIL mortar system, and an ISIL VBIED.

Remember Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Dempsey (who can’t leave soon enough to suit  me) declared that Baiji (in contrast to Ramadi) is strategically important. Then why are there only 200 Iraqi police and special forces there, hanging on for dear life?

Further, the military has been extremely slow in responding to accusations by the very dodgy Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (which appears to be one guy in a flat in London who is a conduit for Islamist agitprop) that US airstrikes had killed 64 civilians in a town near Kobani. All coverage of this event takes Syrian Observatory’s account as gospel. This is a very damaging charge, and the US should have responded quickly and authoritatively immediately, rather than letting this portrayal go around the world unchallenged. The military should also investigate the Syrian Observatory very closely and report what it learns about its sources, methods, and connections. If, as it appears, it is an information war outlet, it is unconscionable that we are letting it go unchallenged as the authoritative source on events in Syria that independent reporters cannot observe.

It’s not just me that is appalled by the Pentagon’s performance. The authoritative and respected analyst Anthony Cordesman rips the Pentagon’s recently released report on the progress of the “counter-ISIS” operation. This sentence suffices, but read the whole thing:

To put it bluntly, it seems to be far more of a public relations exercise than a serious attempt at reporting on nature and success of Operation Inherent Resolve.

We need to be honest and be real, and not repeat the self-defeating performance of the “Five-O’Clock Follies” of Vietnam infamy. Credibility is vital, and methinks it is being squandered to protect an administration that is only half-heartedly  (if that) committed to destroying ISIS. Reality will rear its ugly head sooner or later, and better to confront it now when something can be done about it.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Isn’t it just *possible* that the military has been slow in responding to the SOHR allegations because our actions have not been completely beyond reproach? I have no special knowledge of the circumstances, just a prior that bureaucrats who fail to cover their own asses probably aren’t able to do so easily.

    Comment by s — May 4, 2015 @ 5:25 pm

  2. @s-Yes. It is possible. But if so, it’s better to acknowledge than explain, rather than cover up. The coverup will eventually disintegrate, and compound greatly the original error (or sin). Civilian casualties happen in warfare. A forthright explanation of the circumstances is better than trying to CYA.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — May 4, 2015 @ 7:14 pm

  3. Interesting, the SOHR is also the source for much of the reporting of the atrocities of the Syrian government, and is given much credence in Washington and London when it does so.

    But people who have criticized its reporting in the past are usually called puppets of Putin and Assad.

    Comment by PailiP — May 6, 2015 @ 5:02 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress