August 20, 2017: Just a month ago, I wrote:
Off the radar scope, the current allied military push on the ISIS capital of Raqqa (Raqqah). Iraqi news service reported a week or so ago that the allies had re-taken Mosul, the most important city held by ISIS at the time.Tonight, The Los Angeles Times is reporting:
Fresh off their victory in Mosul, Iraqi forces Sunday launched their campaign to reclaim the city of Tall Afar, Islamic State’s last major bastion in the northern part of the country.Its loss would deny the group a major resupply — or escape — route to the border with Syria, 60 miles to the west. The jihadis have long been able to cross the border with impunity.
Most important international event going on right now, not being reported: Raqqa.
First, for background, an earlier post. From that post, regarding Raqqa:
Caliphate (ISIS may or may not hold these cities); all to the northeast of Damascus, or north of BaghdadSome data points to keep in mind:
- Aleppo: Syria
- Raqqa: Syria (currently held by ISIS) (on the Euphrates River); capital cityof ISIS -- self-declared; about 80 miles due east (slightly southeast) of Aleppo)
- Manbij: on road to Raqqa in Syria; "allies" re-take Manbij, August, 2016
- Mosul: back and for between ISIS and Kurds; on the Tigris
- Tikrit: midway between Mosul and Baghdad; on the Tigris
- Ramadi: on the Euphrates, west of Baghdad, west of Falujah
- Fallujah: on the Euphrates, between Ramadi and Baghdad
- President Trump moves quickly
- President Trump keeps his campaign promises (others may put up obstacles, but he, at least, is doing what he said he would be doing)
- political trope: at least one foreign country will test a new American president in the first 100 days
- President Trump took the offensive and "tested" several countries in his first thirty days (China, Mexico, Canada), and then within the first sixty days, ISIS (see below)
- China: first phone call -- with Taiwan president
- Mexico: trade, wall
- Canada: trade
- it appears Trump is leaving warfighting to his generals; has anyone seen a Trump tweet on military action?
"US Marine artillery moving into Syria means we will crush them. Fast in, fast out. Crush them; move in, fast move out fast. Marines don't stick around; no nation building. In support role; artillery can sit back 10 kilometers; not on front lines; support role; ISIS will be crushed in Raqqa." -- Republican Congressman former US Marine (or Army?) artillery officer.BBC: report from two hours ago (posted at 8:36 a.m. Central Time, March 9, 2017).
US Marines reportedly arrived in the past few days to establish an outpost from which they will be able to fire artillery at IS positions some 32km (20 miles) away. US special forces are already on the ground, advising the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance. The alliance is expected to launch an assault on Raqqa in the coming weeks. Over the weekend, a separate force of elite US army Rangers was also deployed near a town north-west of Raqqa in heavily armoured vehicles, in an attempt to end clashes between SDF fighters and a Turkish-backed rebel force.The Washington Post: huge.
The force is part of the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which left San Diego on Navy ships in October. The Marines on the ground include part of an artillery battery that can fire powerful 155-millimeter shells from M-777 Howitzers, two officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deployment.
The expeditionary unit’s ground force, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, will man the guns and deliver fire support for U.S.-backed local forces who are preparing an assault on the city. Additional infantrymen from the unit will provide security, while resupplies will be handled by part of the expeditionary force’s combat logistics element. For this deployment, the Marines were flown from Djibouti to Kuwait and then into Syria, said another defense official with direct knowledge of the operation.
Report: US B-52's -- Show Of Force
Response To North Korea
My quick unedited e-mail to a reader who thought it might be Minot AFB B-52's to Asia:
By the way, what a great opportunity for a two-fer. Everyone is well aware that Trump not happy with Chinese movement into the South China Sea. Moving B-52's as a show-of-force against China might not be a smart move, but moving B-52's as show of force against North Korea makes a great cover story. Something tells me that China won't like North Korea's stupidity drawing US B-52's into the region.This may explain the "switch" announced this past week. After 12 years, Barksdale B-52 bombers ceding Mideast mission to Minot. The question is why after 12 years was decision made to switch Mideast from Barksdale to Minot.Possibly you are correct that Minot bombers going to Asia, but also with switch it's possible the Barksdale bombers are moving to Asia and Minot moving to Mideast.Regardless of specifics, it certainly suggests Trump has unleashed his military.After 8 years of "no-drama Obama" we're finally seeing some movement. Trump is absolutely overwhelming Congress and the media. No one can keep up.
Update: update. I'm wrong. This is nothing new. We've been doing it for quite some time, alternating between Barksdale and Minot with regard to NOKO and SOKO. Minot Daily News.