Wanted Dead or Alive: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The U.S. has posted a $10 million reward. Now it is time to take him out. Here is exactly how. I refer back to Gary Bernsten’s Jawbreaker, The Attack on bin Laden and Al-Qaeda.
Dateline November 2001, northern Afghanistan. American Green Beret forces code named Tiger 02 were in action:
The most lethal pieces of equipment in Tiger 02’s arsenal were the satellite radios carried by the Air Force combat controllers. These allowed them to call in air strikes from the combined air armadas of the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force from halfway around the world. A close second was the Special Operations Forces Laser Acquisition Marker (known as SOFLAM), which looked like a giant pair of elongated binoculars mounted on a tripod with a trigger attached to a coiled length of cable. It shot out a laser beam to mark an enemy target so that a laser-guided bomb from a plane could lock on it and destroy it…. Once the planes neared the vicinity, the scanner would light the enemy with the infrared laser beam of the SOFLAM. From thousands of feet overhead a jet aircraft would drop a laser-guided bomb whose internal computer would hone in on the SOFLAM’s laser signature and essentially “ride the laser” to the target.
The combined effect of the “death ray” as General Dostum (the Uzbek, horse riding commander of fighters teamed up with the Americans) called the laser designator and U.S. air strikes was phenomenal. One Taliban bunker after another containing some combination of Russian-made T-55 tanks, ZSU-23-4 Russian antiaircraft guns, RPG shoulder-held rockets and machine guns was obliterated. The Taliban literally didn’t know what hit them.
A similar strategy with similar effects today can be put in place with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the SOFLAM target.
In Hunting the Jackal, Billy Waugh, Special Forces veteran, CIA contractor and possessor of eight purple hearts, provided interesting insight on the mindset of Arab fighters. Billy writes, “It is my experience that Arab units lack the middleman management necessary to run successful operations…. We saw this most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the entire war effort collapsed when the main command structure was compromised. It is no surprise to me that the Arabs have lost every war in which they have participated…. The Arabs have a terrible penchant for losing interest, pretty dammed fast. The care and repair of technical devices does not interest them, and they consistently fail to keep their items fit for battle.”
A specific targeted mission with a well-defined end game is the concept here. Cut off the head of the snake and the body will wither and die. A SOFLAM/air strike-based plan offers promise. The big question is who replaces Tiger 02, General Dostum’s mop up ground forces and U.S. air support? Americans have been training Iraq’s army for years. Perhaps suitable teams of Special Operations Forces can be deployed effectively from this base. The Kurds definitely have SOF capability (See a Kurdish SOF night raid on ISIS here: WARNING GRAPHIC) and are a logical first choice.
As to ground mop up following air strikes, Iraq’s sizable army, Kurdish ground forces and the emerging presence of Sunni tribes in Anbar province might team up in a united front. Such a joint force would dramatically outnumber ISIS ground forces.
As to air power, the United States has not provided Iraq with the F-16s discussed for years. The reasoning is cloudy. The result is unhelpful given the current state of things. Thus it is likely that U.S. air strike power (see video below for an example) would be necessary for this well-defined mission.
(Originally posted August 29, 2014)