ISIS Practices “Auftragstaktik”‏ — A Case of Evolutionary Selection in Action

America’s incompetently planned and led wars in the Middle East have acted as a biological process of evolutionary selection that has been creating nastier and more lethal terrorist organizations. This has happened because of the fecklessness of America’s political leaders. (Bing West covers that political fecklessness and the selective pressures on our Islamist enemies in his article America the Weak.)

Nowhere is this selective pressure seen better than with the evolution of ISIS and its adoption of “Auftragstaktik”‏ in order to execute terrorist operations.

“Auftragstaktik”‏ is a German military term that is loosely translated in English as “Mission Tactics”. According to the UK Daily Mail, the terrorist organization ISIS has adopted “Auftragstaktik”‏ as a central organizing theme because Western signals intelligence destroyed other Islamic terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda that tried to be more centrally directed.

ISIS figured out that if you give a leader resources, a target, and a time to get it done, then tell him to get it done however he can, you will get big, nasty and above all successful terrorist attacks in western nations, because such methods do not require detectable electronic communications.

See this UK Daily Mail clip:

The bloodthirsty militant group admitted to following the technique in a recent issue of Dar al-Islam, its French-language propaganda magazine.
It was this strategy of warfare that led to the November 13 Paris attacks, in which 130 people died, and the Brussels bombings two weeks ago that killed another 32.
The doctrine was first developed in the early 19th century in Prussia in response to the state’s crushing defeat against Napoleon.
This new theory of war – which gave troops the skills to respond to rapidly changing circumstances in the heat of battle – was then refined by general Carl von Clausewitz.
Later fellow Prussian general Moltke the Elder further tweaked his theory, ushering in a new way of commanding modern-day armies.
Today, similar tactics form a crucial component of the U.S. and UK armies military training.
The February ISIS article, which was devoted almost entirely to the Paris bombings, explained that its jihad in Europe encompasses three types of attacks.
This includes ambitious mass slaughter plots carried out by operatives sent from ISIS headquarters in the Middle East, to lone-wolf attacks by people with no connection whatsoever to the group.
It even cited a historical German infantry manual from 1908 as its inspiration.
The soldiers’ manual stated: ‘There is nothing more important than educating the soldier to think and act for himself.
‘Autonomy and his sense of honor push him to do his duty even when it is not in front of his superior.’
According to, this style of warfare – known in the U.S. as mission-type tactics – translates to: ‘Here is your target, here are your assets, go get it done.’
This, ISIS claimed, allowed its cells to inflict terror in Europe with ‘complete tactical autonomy’ and leaves little evidence that can link back to their commanders.

This ISIS “Auftragstaktik”‏ model will be replicated and improved upon. This will not end well.

We have sowed the wind, now we reap the whirlwind.


36 thoughts on “ISIS Practices “Auftragstaktik”‏ — A Case of Evolutionary Selection in Action”

  1. There is a lot of nonsense written about the American soldier in WWII being inventive and free spirited and the German soldier being regimented and unable to improvise. This may have been true of the Japanese army but the German army had the best noncoms and was better led than the allied armies.

    The Germans had a lunatic at the head of government but only after 1942. Hitler allowed the Normandy invasion to get a foothold with his central control of the panzer divisions. In Russia, he prevented strategic retreats and consolidation of lines.

    It may well be that the panzers would have been savaged by air power in Normandy and that the Soviet Union was always going to win eventually but the boasting about our leadership in WWII was excessive and maybe wrong.

    I think Bradley was a weak general and Eisenhower’s strength was political. Patton was a great tactical general like Sherman but, also like Sherman, was better as a subordinate.

    I can’t decide if McArthur was a genius or lucky. The US Navy was the best led force in WWII. An exception was the criminal negligence of the submarine force early in the war but that was the leadership at the top and not the captains.

    The Navy was extremely lucky in intelligence and Joe Rochefort, who was never promoted until he retired, was denied credit for the accomplishments of his group.

    Other sources suggest Rochefort received no official recognition during his lifetime because he was made a scapegoat for the embarrassment of OP-20-G. Redman (whose brother was the influential Rear Admiral Joseph Redman) complained about the operation of the Hawaii station; as a result, Rochefort was reassigned from cryptanalysis to command a floating dry dock at San Francisco.[17] Rochefort never served at sea again.[18] The fact that Rochefort received no recognition at the time is considered by some to have been an outrage.

  2. >>The US Navy was the best led force in WWII.

    I disagree. The UK Royal Navy was much better lead through at least Mid-1943.

    After that it was about even.

    The US Navy from early 1944 on had such a material advantage over the Royal Navy that it was just not competitive in air or submarine operations, however well lead the Royal Navy was.

    The Royal Navy still had the leadership edge in night surface operations and anti-submarine warfare after 1943.

    As for Bing, These passages stood out —

    The Islamists in Iraq and Afghanistan did not fight fiercely and stand their ground against our troops. Our training, shooting skills, and firepower were overwhelming. The enemy may have been a farm boy, a terrorist from Yemen, a former Iraqi soldier, a youth from a Pakistani madras, a Taliban from Kabul—whomever. They all learned to stay about four hundred meters away from American troops, because every grunt now has a telescopic sight and most are qualified as expert riflemen.


    What was new in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan was not the profusion of the IED/land mine; instead, it was the reduction in the number of American fatalities. Much has been written about “the magic hour,” meaning: get every wounded to an aid station within sixty minutes. True, the ratio of killed to injured dropped from 4-to-1 in Vietnam to 7-to-1 in Iraq. The underlying reason was better training in life-saving drilled into every squad, along with the tourniquet. Most wounded die from exsanguination. They bleed out because the tourniquet is inadequate. Not anymore. The modern tourniquet with its twist and snap is as much a breakthrough for the grunt as was the stirrup for the horse rider.

    and especially this —

    Militarily, the goal was to win over the people. Thus, rules of engagement were designed to place severe limits upon the use of indirect firepower (mortars, artillery, rockets, or bombs). Even one civilian casualty caused bitter complaints, although the Islamists were responsible for three out of four killed or wounded.

    On our side, there was a yin and yang to a war that had no endpoint. Over the last four years in Afghanistan, it became common for a platoon commander to say, “My mission is to get every one of my men back home in one piece.” Why risk your men when no one could tell you what defined victory? Why go across a field after taking some fire to check out the compound, when you could call in indirect fire? The incentive at the patrol level was to call in indirect fire.

    On the yang side, the incentive of the senior commanders was not to allow indirect fire. The longer we stayed, the more frustrated the top command became with the lack of population cooperation. Every civilian casualty translated into some official complaining. So the more rigorous became the rules, especially in Afghanistan. It finally got to the point that the word of the forward air controller (FAC) on the ground was not good enough. The pilot was required to cross-examine the FAC before executing the mission, and a lawyer and/or another pilot back in an operations center miles away also had to authorize the strike.

    Today, eight out of ten US attack aircraft return from missions over Islamic State territory without striking any target. To do so, the pilot needs the permission of a senior American officer in an operations center hundreds of miles away. This enormous caution—and expense—to protect the lives of every civilian is unprecedented in history. It can only be done by the richest country in the world. However, it gravely slows down the pace of a war and allows the enemy to recuperate indefinitely.

    These rules of engagement cannot be sustained when we again fight an enemy who can and does kill us.

  3. I agree about the British Navy early in the war.

    Midway was won by Joe Rochefort and Wade McClusky. Had McClusky not seen the Japanese destroyer and followed it, the battle would have been lost.

    The early battles with the Japanese around Guadalcanal were losses until the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, which was fought fiercely and, ultimately victoriously. The British Navy did very well at anti-submarine war, which was of course, crucial to Britain’s survival.

    Surface action by the British was very early with the Graf Spee and the Bismarck. My father-in-law had a letter opener from the teak decking of the Ajax.

    The British lost two capital ships very early to the Japanese through incompetence of leadership similar to Pearl Harbor by Kimmel.

    The US Navy would probably have won the Pacific War without MacArthur.

  4. >>We have sowed the wind, now we reap the whirlwind.

    Who is we? I think you mean the Left.

  5. Southwest Asia is a failed civilization unable to deal with the modernity that is overwhelming it. It has an overabundance of fighting age males with no other prospects than violence and enough overage oligarchs willing to pay for it. It is in a civilizational conflict with the West, even though the West refuses to accept that fact. This violence will continue until it is stopped. It will be stopped when one civilization accepts that it is exhausted and willing to let the other prevail.

    Both Trent and Bing West are dealing with the small ball precursor to the main event, which begins when the West agrees that it is in a civilizational conflict with Southwest Asia in which only one side or the other can prevail. The details of the small ball are interesting, as are the Panay incident, the invasion of Æthopia, the and the seizure of the Sudetenland. But the outcome of those events, would have no real impact on the outcome of World War II even if they had ended differently.

    The main event is what is relevant, and Donald Goldman, aka Spengler deals with it best in his recent essay The 30% solution — when war without end ends.

    Nations do not fight to the death, but they frequently fight until their pool of prospective fighters has reached a point of practical exhaustion. In most cases, this involves reaching the 30% mark where casualties are concerned.

    There is no simple common characterization that applies to all the wars of demographic exhaustion, but there surely are common elements to be found in all or most of them. These include the belief that the alternative to pursuing the war would be national ruin, as well as the belief of ordinary soldiers that the war will lead to their social and economic advancement for ordinary soldiers (the “field marshal’s baton in the rucksack”).

    With hindsight, the decision to initiate and continue hostilities on this scale seems an act of madness. In most cases, moreover, the greatest number of casualties occurred after hope of ultimate victory had diminished or disappeared. The principal actors, to be sure, evinced a certain kind of rationality, albeit of a perverse order: They believed that failure to fight and win would undermine their national raison d’etre. In fact, their fear of national decline was not entirely misplaced.

    Perfect storm conditions are possible, indeed difficult to avoid, in the contemporary world—notably in the Sunni-Shia conflict in Western Asia. The intra-Muslim conflict, to be sure, remains scattered among geographically-contained civil wars and proxy conflicts, but it has the potential to erupt into a much larger war of exhaustion. The combination of economic stress and the cultural challenges to traditional life in the Muslim world is explosive, and might give rise to civilization wars on the scale of the past.

    We’ll know we’re in this war because the enemy will no longer be referred to in reverenced tones and prison guards will no longer carry q’rans around Gitmo in white gloves. Instead they’ll be called by names like Kraut and Jap that are no longer uttered in polite company and prisoners will be lucky to see the Sun, let alone a holy book. I’m pretty sure how that will end, but so were the Romans; I just fear what it will take for us to become motivated to do it. And if we’re not motivated to do it, perhaps our sell by date is past. Wake me when it starts.

  6. Meh. I don’t live or work anywhere near a coastal blue-state enclave, and I’ve pretty well had all the patriotism and civic-mindedness beaten out of me with a shovel. It’s tough to give a damn about people who think that gelding a medically healthy child or registering illegal aliens to vote is A-OK, but who insist that nasty semi-auto firearm should get you killed or put in prison, and if you disagree with any of the above then *you* are the scary dangerous one.

    I am part of a remnant population — an American Pict. Let the metrosexual leftist herd animals that displaced me reap what they have sown.

  7. The level of initiative varied over countries, time, and units. Early in the war, German tactical leadership was excellent in part because in the secret build up to war, the cadre troops were functionally trained to operated two levels of command above what they were. The early expansions and mobilizations moved them into slots they were prepared for, while in other nations they had a higher proportion of dead wood that had to be cleared away as the military expanded.

    Later in the war, that effect was blunted by losses, lack of resources, and the using up of the limited supply of talented warrior leaders.

    American units varied, ranging from the LGoP effect we have noted here, and Marines to the quality of late war line infantry units and the replacements dropped from depots into units on the line.

    As for MacArthur, and YMMV, I think his most brilliant move as a commander was the Inchon landings during the Korean War. I will give him credit for bypassing Japanese strongpoints, but that was the standard American strategy in the Pacific.

    But this was counter-balanced by two things in my view. The first was allowing his aircraft to be caught on the ground, undispersed, hours after being notified of the strikes on Pearl Harbor. [The Japanese strike was delayed by weather, and their strike commanders were amazed to find the Americans lined up at their bases.] The second is based on my conversations with a Korean War veteran neighbor when I was a kid.

    The neighbor was . . . amused that a pre-teen kid was both a military history buff, and aiming for the Naval Academy at the time. We’d talk over the fence about WW-II and Korea. He claimed, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, although I cannot confirm it, that his unit conducted recon patrols on the Chinese side of the border before China intervened. If that happened, it was against the political leadership’s commands AND it would have been a factor in the decision by China to intervene. MacArthur’s vocal desire to liberate China from the Communists, and incursions had to bias China into reacting in Korea.

    As I said, YMMV.

  8. America’s incompetently planned and led wars in the Middle East…..nastier and more lethal terrorist organizations.

    “So Bush’s original sin was invading in 2003 and Obama’s original sin was not respecting the Iraqi election’s results or the constitutional process in 2010, without any shadow of a doubt.” Although it’s highly unlikely Khedery strongly believed Bush was misguided in invading Iraq at the time it was happening and thereafter, since he was helping manage the diplomatic dimension of the whole Iraq liberation enterprise.

    Maliki’s government printed 35% more ballots than were needed for the number of voters, millions of extra ones, which led to accusations of vote fraud.

    Iraq is more polarized than ever and Baghdad is falling under an Iranian orbit, which is furthering polarization of the society, which is strengthening ISIS and radical militant Shiite groups like the Iraqi militias.”

    He pointed out that “the Iraqi government is fully penetrated by these Iranian-sponsored groups, and many of them are now in charge of the security services, they’re on the front lines with these militias, they’re receiving American weapons, they’re receiving American tanks, they have American air support, they have American diplomatic cover. So in this case we are backing the Iranian-commanded Shia militias to defeat ISIS. But the Iraqi security forces and the Iranian-backed militias are guilty of the same atrocities and war crimes that ISIS is known for. They are beheading individuals, they are torturing, and evidence of this emerges every day. And yet they are receiving billions of dollars of advanced military equipment from the United States.”

    Longest-Serving U.S. Diplomat In Iraq: Obama Gave Us ISIS

  9. >>Iraq is more polarized than ever…
    I really hate meaningless BS posting like that. More than ever? Based on what measure? On what timescale? Scored how? And is that bad? A sign of progress?

    >>the Iraqi government is fully penetrated by these Iranian-sponsored groups…
    And he knew this how? And if he knew, wouldn’t the Iraqi government know? And our government? And the regional governments? Or was it his personal secret info gathered and analyzed personally?

  10. Again with the “we”. I guess that’s why “we” are importing them into the West as fast as humanly possible. Lest they be left afield with the changing of the guard come 2016, and the ROE bonanza possibly changing. Better odds to stage from Montmarte and Brooklyn. Bing knows his stuff, goes without saying, but his analysis is a diplomatic one. He leaves out key elements.

  11. “He claimed, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, although I cannot confirm it, that his unit conducted recon patrols on the Chinese side of the border before China intervened.”

    Have you read any WEB Griffin novels ? The last two of his “The Corps” series are about Korea, where he was stationed. There is quite a bit about the early knowledge of Chinese troops and about Inchon and the young Navy officer who planned the invasion.

    Griffin has many friends among retired military and gets a lot of material from them. His books are a sort of roman a clef and have many facts quite accurately.

  12. Subotai Bahadur

    Regards this —

    The neighbor was . . . amused that a pre-teen kid was both a military history buff, and aiming for the Naval Academy at the time. We’d talk over the fence about WW-II and Korea. He claimed, and I have no reason to disbelieve him, although I cannot confirm it, that his unit conducted recon patrols on the Chinese side of the border before China intervened. If that happened, it was against the political leadership’s commands AND it would have been a factor in the decision by China to intervene. MacArthur’s vocal desire to liberate China from the Communists, and incursions had to bias China into reacting in Korea.

    It was utterly irrelevant.

    The Chinese were going into Korea whatever Stalin did or didn’t do to support them.

    US intelligence thought that Russian didn’t want a war — correct — and that China would not go in without Russia. Thus MacArthur was ordered by the Joint chiefs to head north to eliminate the DPKA.

    The assumption WRT China was hugely incorrect.

    See the following and note the organization in the link:

    Two Strategic Intelligence Mistakes in Korea, 1950
    Perceptions and Reality
    P. K. Rose

    “…So, both the United States and the Soviet Union saw any large-scale Chinese intervention as potentially stimulating a global war, and the US understanding of the Soviet position was, indeed, sound. Internal Chinese priorities, however, continued to be discounted by Washington, which still believed that the Soviets controlled overall Communist actions worldwide.

    The next day, the CCP Politburo decided that China should intervene in the war even without Soviet military support. Based on this decision, it was Stalin who relented on his earlier request and agreed to provide military supplies against a Soviet loan extended to the Chinese. He also agreed to turn over Soviet aircraft in China to the PLA and to move Soviet air units into position to defend Chinese territory.[35] Thus, the Chinese not only made a unilateral decision to intervene for nationalistic purposes, but also intimidated the Soviets into supporting them.”

    NB: The Red Chinese were coming regardless of any patrolling.

  13. America has not fought a war in a long time. It has engaged in police actions in both Afghanistan and Iraq. You need an opponent to fight a war.

    I guess Sadam had an army and almost qualifies as an opponent, but the Taliban was just one force among several. It was Rommel who said “Anyone who fights, even with the most modern weapons, against an enemy who dominates the air, is like a primitive warrior who stands against modern forces, with the same limitations and the same chance of success.”

    As you have only fought from the position of complete air superiority, and people with no advanced weapons you believe violence is a good way to engender the regime changes you want. Once you start to fight people who can fight back effectively this may change.

    To the point. All armies who have done well understand the maxim that plans do not survive the first encounter. So initiative is prized and encouraged among small unit commanders. That ISIS would learn this lesson is a given, so hand wringing is, well, ridiculous.

  14. America’s incompetently planned and led wars in the Middle East have acted as a biological process of evolutionary selection that has been creating nastier and more lethal terrorist organizations. This has happened because of the fecklessness of America’s political leaders.

    I’m not sold on the cause and effect part of this argument. I agree about the outcome but I think there is a different cause at work. A dream that isn’t dying. Muslims want a Caliphate. Everyone time we stop one group from bringing their vision into reality it’s like we’ve destroyed a blooming dandelion and the seeds of the dandelion get scatted to the wind and the infection begins anew, this time a little more wiser to the challenges.

    It’s near impossible to kill an idea. The best way to actually kill an idea is to convince people not to hold that idea. The best way to convince Muslims that their Muslim society idea is awful is to let them have it and live under it until they pull it down themselves. Communism was the dream of many revolutionaries. Then people got to live in the USSR and it wasn’t so great. There used to be the Red Brigades and other Marxist/Leninist Revolutionary Groups, but since the Soviet Union collapsed, how many groups of terrorists are out there willing to die to bring about a new communist paradise?

    What the US is doing is playing whack-a-mole with these groups. Kill one and another springs up, metastasized into something worse than what you killed.

  15. Mrs. Davis – Instead of massive slaughter we should end Moslem immigration and stay out of the Middle East. There was never any reason for us to become involved there. Japan has never allowed Moslems to live in Japan and has never become involved in the myriad internal conflicts of the Middle East and they have never had any problem purchasing oil from the Middle East. Compared to us Japan has avoided trillions of dollars of useless expense not to mention thousands of dead.

  16. Subotai Bahadur,

    I have written on Clark Field before, but I haven’t put it into a post. This is what I’ve said on the subject previously —

    Regards MacArthur and the Dec 8th 1941 debacle, From 0330 until 1014, HQ USAFFE specifically denied Brereton permission to launch his bomber force at Clark (19 B-17s) against Japanese port facilities on Formosa.

    It also did not allow Lt. Gen. Lewis H. Brereton to speak directly with MacArthur either in person or on the telephone.

    FEAF dispersed the B-17 bombers to holding positions in the air at about 0800 to avoid an attack expected that morning. Most of the bombers were in the air most of that morning.

    MacArthur gave Brereton permission to attack Formosa during a telephone call at 1014, and Brereton recalled the dispersed force which began landing about 1100.

    It took two to two and a half hours to refuel, load bombs, and prepare an attack, thus FEAF’s aircraft were on the ground at about 1220 when the Japanese air forces, delayed by fog on Formosa for roughly five hours, reached Clark.

    Why neither Brereton nor MacArthur thought to disperse the B-17’s to airbases out of range south of Clark Air Field to try again the next morning has never been explained.

    This fade south and launch the next morning technique was how B-17’s were used in New Guinea in 1942-43…but only after the bad experiences at Clark Air field and Darwin.

    Now, some further figures of merit for consideration in the MacArthur’s FEAF debacle.

    First figure of merit:

    To hit one 60 ft. x 100 ft. target in WWII required 1500 B-17 sorties carrying nine thousand 250 lb bombs because they had a circular error probability of 3300 feet. [1]

    Circular error probability is defined as 50% within the CEP circle around the target and 50% landing somewhere else outside it.

    That level of performance assumed,
    1) Good daylight visibility and
    2) Good target contrast from the background to achieve a good aim point.

    A second figure of merit:

    There were nineteen B-17’s available to the FEAF at Clark Air field with a maximum payload of 12 x 500 lb bombs for a total of 228 bombs in one 19 sortie mission.

    Point in fact, the FEAF B-17’s only had 100 lb and 300 lb bombs to work with. [2] And this was 12-15 months before USAAF armorers got around to placing multiple lighter bombs on the B-17 500 lb. bomb stations.

    A third figure of merit:

    There was no effective way for FEAF B-17’s to deliver their loads of bombs through fog on Formosan airfields, to get in the first punch against Japanese airpower, even if MacArthur had said yes sooner.

    It was years before the US Military deployed radio beam navigation for night/bad weather bombing (LORAN) and it was February 1944 before the H2X (AKA “Mickey set” or more properly the AN/APS-15) 3cm airborne radar arrived in USAAF service in UK based B-17’s to aim bombs through
    clouds and murk. [3] This also leaves out accuracy considerations of upper level jet stream wind patterns over Formosa.

    A fourth figure of merit is the following partial list of Japanese military airfields on Formosa. [4]

    Okayama Airfield
    Shenei, Shoka

    Tainan Airfield
    Japanese airfield
    (Home of 84 A6M2 Zero/Zeke fighters & 100 bombers used 8 Dec 1941 at Clark Field)

    Kaohsiung (Takao)
    Harbor and airfield

    Toko Airfield
    Japanese airfield

    Toshein Airfield
    Japanese airfield

    Toyohara Airfield
    Japanese airfield, located in the central portion of the island

    Koshun Airfield
    Japanese emergency airfield

    Matsuyama Airfield
    Japanese airfield

    Karenko Airfield
    Japanese airfield

    Shinchiku Airfield [5]
    Japanese wartime airfield

    Koryu Airfield
    Japanese wartime airfield

    Anyone who thinks nineteen pre-B-17E model Flying Fortresses on 8 December 1941 could make a meaningful dent in the above Japanese airfield infrastructure on Formosa, given that B-17 force’s technical limitations, and the efforts in terms of sorties that the 5th Air Force put into suppressing Formosan airpower in the anti-Kamikaze campaign of March thru June 1945, is trafficking in delusion. [6]

    There was no way that the FEAF could survive in range of Japanese air power on Formosa in 1941, and it didn’t. Nothing MacArthur did, or didn’t do, would have changed that outcome.

    The only thing that would be different, had MacArthur said “Yes” to a B-17 raid on Formosa hours sooner, was the place where those B-17’s died, in a raid over a Japanese port facility over Formosa or in the ocean between Formosa and the Philippines, as Japanese Zero fighters followed then back to Clark field.

    More modern evaluations — AKA less colored by immediate post-war reputation protection and organizational agendas — of the FEAF performance are more telling.

    The best look at that I have seen on that debacle is in Chapter 10 of “Why Air Forces Fail: The Anatomy of Defeat”, edited by Robin Higham, Stephen J. Harris, which evaluated the real readiness of the Far Eastern Air Force on Dec 8, 1941. That essay, titled “The United States in the Pacific” by Mark Parillo, addresses the FEAF Philippines performance starting at page 296.

    The bottom line was that the B-17 force at Clark field did not have:

    1) The intelligence to effectively strike Formosa air fields with the limited number of bombs available at Clark Field. There were No pre-war over flights of Formosa, No human intelligence and thus No intelligence photos for inexperience photo interpreters to work from, There were reasons for this. USAFFE persistently denied Brereton’s efforts to conduct reconnaissance of Formosa prior to 8 December. MacArthur didn’t want to start a war before he was ready, nor did he have directions from Washington DC to fly such missions.

    The 19th Bomb Group’s target files apparently did contain enough information to strike a Formosan port facility, making the planned attack on Formosa more than just a shot in the dark. However, given that the invasion fleet had already sailed. It would have been a useless gesture.

    2) The B-17 did not have the accuracy to strike ships at sea from 20,000 feet, See B-17 performance per pre-war doctrine at Midway, but unknown at the time,

    3) Nor did the B-17 force have the logistical chops in its supporting FEAF fighter units — which lacked coolant for high altitude operations and were so short of .50 cal ammunition for its P-40E’s there was no test firing of guns until combat commenced — to conduct escorted strikes at the B-17’s normal operating altitudes anywhere within P-40 range,

    5) The B-17 force at Clark Air field were pre B-17E models lacking tail guns and powered turret guns. Thus they were dead meat for Japanese A6M Zero/Zeke fighters with 20mm cannon on Formosa (See,

    6) There was no effective early warning system at Clark Field, as then Captain Chennault’s exercise tested as effective telephone. radio & binocular equipped ground observer system was drummed out of the Army Air Service (along with his person) as a threat to the Heavy Bombardment clique’s B-17 budget. And like Pearl Harbor, FEAF SCR-270 Radar units and fighter controllers were too inexperienced to be of any use.

    The B-17 force was sold as a high value “force in being” to the American high command such that it made the force’s commitment without a clear high value target — like the expected Japanese invasion convoy — a non-starter, given a lack of clear targets on Formosa.

    The pattern of Axis versus Allied airpower in WW2 was that the two major Axis powers had made the transition to 1st Generation piston engine mono-plane fighters & bombers, and it took a year of these more advanced aircraft being in service before they could be used to best
    advantage in terms of proper logistics.

    Then it took further months of combat to get proper tactical doctrine for this new equipment.

    German had the Czech crisis, Spain and Poland to iron these things out before the main event in the Battle of France.

    Japan had the Sino-China War starting in 1937, plus major border incidents with Russia, before dropping down on the FEAF at Clark Field.

    Clark field was too close to a modern, combat tested Japanese Air Force to survive and nothing Gen MacArthur did, or did not do, would have changed that final outcome.


    1) “Effects-Based Operations” Col Gary Crowder, Chief, Strategy,
    Concepts and Doctrine Air Combat Command. See Document Link:

    2) See the “MacArthur’s Pearl Harbor” section at

    3) See and

    4) See:

    5) The following link shows B-25 Mitchells using 5th Air Force low
    level airdrome attack techniques on the Shinchiku Airfield complex in
    April 1945 —

    6) See the 5th Air Force’s 1945 Formosa campaign history at

  17. Jim,

    FDR made the decision to get involved in the Middle East in 1945. The potential influence of the Soviet Union in that area was a not inconsiderable part of that decision. Maybe we wish things had happened differently now, but I suspect having the Soviets in control of Arabian and Persian oil would not have been pleasant. We’ve been involved there for a long time and we are going to stay involved unless we want to retreat from our position as global hegemon. This may seem attractive, theoretically, but in practical application it could work out less so. I agree the Japanese have been able to be free riders because of our policies, but that’s because they lost the war and we got to make the rules. The question we face today is do we want to continue to make the rules or do we want to turn that over to the Chinese?

  18. Michael Hiteshew Says:
    wouldn’t the Iraqi government know? And our government? And the regional governments? Or was it his personal secret info gathered and analyzed personally?

    Before asking, do you know those brought to power in Iraq?
    Galabi, Maliki Jaafari, Shurstani, Adel Abdulmahdi, Hummam Hammudi, Ali Alalaq, Muwafak Alrubaie…..

    Did come to your mind to question this bunch of thugs are product of Wilayat al-Faqih in Iran?

    So why you and others are jumping to state of denial for the last 13 years with whom you deal with in Iraq?

    Do you asked yourself is it Iraq empty state from good guys to build the stat,with your smart guy Paul Bremer III or only these proven thugs?


  19. In the 1950s and later, the West opposed the secular Arab nationalist movement for two reasons: it challenged its regional hegemony and threatened the survival of its clients’ leaders and countries. Specifically, there was nothing to stop a secular movement from cooperating with the USSR; in fact, most of them were mildly socialist. Furthermore, most secular movements advocated various schemes of Arab unity, a union or a unified policy, which threatened and undermined the pro-West traditional regimes of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other client states. The West saw it as a challenge that had to be met. (60)

    Dancing with the Devil

  20. The Clarke and Iba fields were too close to Formosa and should have been dispersed. I read “Queens Die Proudly” as a child and do not recall that the fortresses were sent aloft at all. Frank Kurtz, as I recall, talked about meetings and contradictory commands all morning.

    I’ve never seen an explanation of MacArthur’s paralysis that day. The B 17s never really did much in the Pacific.

    The P 38 and the B 25 carried much of the air war along with the Navy.

    “So why you and others are jumping to state of denial for the last 13 years with whom you deal with in Iraq?”

    Pardon me if I do not accept your expertise on Iraq.

  21. JHoover,

    You seem to take the romantic US diplomat version opinion of Middle Eastern war too seriously.

    Aside from conflicts involving much better behaved outsiders, Middle Eastern wars have always been butchery of each other’s civilians, with victory going to whoever was more successful at it.

    This was in fact how Iraq’s Shia won in 2007, and I predicted that in print in October 2003. THE decisive event of our occupation campaign there was the very mistaken Iranian Revolutionary Guard bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in 2006. The tipoff that it was done by the Iranians, as opposed to Al Qaeda/Iraqi Sunni Baathists, was that the mosque guards did not have their throats slit, and that only the mosque dome destroyed. The guards weren’t harmed much, and the mosque wasn’t leveled though the attackers had all night access to it.

    “The bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, left its famous golden dome in ruins but injured no one.”

    Al Qaeda bombed a Shiite mosque and injured NO ONE? I.e., it wasn’t done by Al Qaeda. Trent can confirm that I noted this at the time.

    Iran’s mullah regime thought the US armed forces antagonize Iraqi’s Shia by not letting them butcher the Sunnis, and very underestimated how nasty the US armed forces were willing to be. Specifically we held the Sunni’s arms behind their backs while Shia death squads and militias slit the Sunni’s throats, i.e., we gave the Shia killers pretty much free access to urban Sunni areas where we had effectively suppressed the Sunni militias. Iraq’s urban Baathists, save in areas with overwhelming Sunni majorities, were exterminated or fled in about six weeks of horror.

    American armed forces then started conspicuously repeating the process in rural Sunni areas, whereupon the Sunni tribes got the idea and changed sides. As I put it in October 2003:

    “The differences between us pacifying Iraq’s Sunni Arab tribes, and not doing so, will chiefly be these:

    (1) how many Sunni Arabs remain in Iraq once we leave. Note that the Iraqi armed forces are being rebuilt with an all-new, i.e., non-Sunni, cadre. Unreconciled Sunni Arabs in Iraq will have the following choices once our occupation ends – (a) becoming reconciled, (b) becoming gone or (c) becoming dead.”

    Note that even in October 2003 that I referred to Iraq’s Sunni Arab _tribes_, i.e. I distinguished between urban Sunnis and the rural Sunni tribes.

    The so-called “Surge” was cover for what really happened. What won the Iraq occupation campaign for us was that we finally let the Shia butcher Sunni civilians. The occupation campaign was won in urban areas in 2006.

    Note that even now the Shiite lack the combat power to do much in Sunni majority areas. The Shia are too disorganized to project combat power into Sunni majority areas. The role of American ground forces in 2006 was to first disarm the Sunni urban militias so the Sunni neighborhoods in ethnically mixed areas, notably Baghdad, could be butchered by the Shia, and in 2007 to start disarming the Sunni tribal militias so the Shia could butcher rural Sunnis.

    Not that there was much real butchery – just enough to convince the vast majority of Sunnis to flee, either to their rural tribes, to Jordan (if they had money) or Syria (if they didn’t have money). Jim Dunnigan of _Strategy Page_ kept track of who was winning with UN refugee statistics.

    With the horrible example of what had just happened in urban areas in front of them, the Sunni tribes were adequately motivated to change sides.

    But, after American forces left Iraqi, Maliki and his Iranian friends went to work on the Sunni tribes who then brought in help from Syria’s Sunni Arabmajority, and the Shia were hustled out of Iraq’s rural Sunni areas.

    Repeat, Iraq’s Shia are too backward and disorganized to project power into areas which don’t have Shia majorities. That has been true pretty much since the Mongols left.

  22. Pardon me, no need to be an expert on Iraq?

    Talking here about events in your life time, I did not asked or raised historical events before you came to this world or discussing about Mesopotamia How Became Iraq!

    Every one free to hold his opinion, I still on my points.
    Good Luck Mike K….

  23. Tom Holsinger
    Two pints for you,

    -I met with US Academic before 2003 invasion, he asked if Iraqis will receive the US troops by showering Flowers on them! I replied to him NO?

    They will fight for their land, But I added be careful from Iranian Mullah….!

    – In 1991 war (Kuwait Invasion) VOA Radio broadcast a report a team of Ten CIA agent infuriated to Southern Iraq for ten to two weeks, went to few Iraqi southern cities, then went back to pentagon with advise US troop should not passing Iraqi borders.

    Tom, saying “as opposed to Al Qaeda/Iraqi Sunni Baathists
    did you know Iraqi army backbone were 70% Shiites who fought Iran for 8 years with Sunni and other minorities without differences, only the Republican Force personal guarding the tyrant regime whom mostly Sunni/selected from Tikrit city and tribes up north to Mosul & surrounding areas, there were few Shiites commanders with them.

    There were NO “Al Qaeda” NO “Iraqi Sunni”…….those “Baathists” were mixed Iraqis from south to North and West to East. Check you references please.

    However the major sin done to Iraq by US in dismantlement of Iraqi Military Army (wasn’t loyal to Tyrant Regime as some like to say).
    That open the doors also caused power vacuum and chaos to Iraq…

    Apologies I may went out of context, however today that passed and things changed forever and can ‘t be changed as before as at first or second year when US inside Iraq.

  24. Here is another Pres Obama face palm moment.

    See —

    Obama: Expect more terrorist attacks as pressure on ISIS increases

    By Dave Boyer – The Washington Times – Friday, April 1, 2016

    President Obama said Friday that the U.S. is sending counter-terrorist “surge teams” to Europe in the wake of the Brussels attacks, and warned that more such terrorist attacks are likely.

    As the Islamic State is “squeezed” by the U.S.-led coalition in Syria and Iraq, Mr. Obama said, “we can anticipate it lashing out elsewhere, as we’ve seen most recently and tragically in countries from Turkey to Brussels.”

    After reading the Bing West and UK Daily Mail “Auftragstaktik”‏ article, you all know how much of a face palm Obama committed.

  25. To Mrs. Davis – The idea of the Soviet Union ever having been able to control the Arabian and Persian oil fields is laughable.

  26. The bad guys evolve. Note that corruptionists in government have learned how to make deals without ever explicitly saying a word.

    Another trick is the human fuse. The politician delegates the actual work of making deals and collecting money to an expendable subordinate. If the scheme blows up, the politician cannot be proven to know anything.

    Another trick is laundering payoffs through obscure business deals with third parties. Gotrocks doesn’t slip Commissioner O’Toole an envelope of $100 bills for the zoning change. Instead, he arranges for Scrooge (his partner in an unrelated deal) to hire O’Toole’s law partner Goldfinger as a consulting attorney on yet another unrelated deal.

    Western liberal societies have long adopted the posture that religious activities are “off limits”. So the anti-Western Middle Easterners have adopted religious activities as the channel for their program. (That just occurred to me – that maybe the program is religious because that’s how they can get away with it. Not that they may not be sincerely religious, but that is what doesn’t get culled.)

  27. “The idea of the Soviet Union ever having been able to control the Arabian and Persian oil fields is laughable.”

    The Soviets thought it was possible, hence the Aswan Dam. You, of course, know better.

  28. Jhoover:
    “There were NO “Al Qaeda” NO “Iraqi Sunni”…….those “Baathists” were mixed Iraqis from south to North and West to East. Check you references please.

    See Kyle Orton’s The Islamic State Was Coming Without the Invasion of Iraq (or “How Saddam Hussein Gave Us ISIS”).

    “However the major sin done to Iraq by US in dismantlement of Iraqi Military Army”

    That “dismantlement” narrative is a misrepresentation of the event sequence and the policy. See Dan Senor and Walter Slocombe’s Too Few Good Men.

    “Talking here about events in your life time”

    Indeed. To set the record straight, on the law and the facts, the decision for Operation Iraqi Freedom was correct. Casus belli was established with the UNMOVIC confirmation that “Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687” (UNSCR 1441) in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441). See the explanation of the law and policy, fact basis of OIF with the primary sources of the mission.

  29. Jim:
    “There was never any reason for us to become involved there.”

    As others have pointed out, the US national security interest in the Middle East pre-dated the enforcement of Iraq’s compliance with the UNSCR 660-series resolutions. A good starting point to learn the why of the Iraq intervention is President HW Bush. Go here for a selection of relevant policy statements by HW Bush. Note “Address to the Nation Announcing the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia”, 08AUG90.

  30. Eric
    ISIS Is Not a Terrorist Group!

    Nouri al-Maliki’s divisive rule helped create crisis in Iraq
    Iraqi leader has governed with an iron fist, alienated segments of the population, experts say
    “The article, published by AL Mawsul Newspaper, states that Prime Minister Al Maliki was involved with Islamic Jihad (not sure if I read right but is the writer of the article stating Al Maliki helped organize Islamic Jihad??) — a terrorist group active during the Lebanese civil war, known for being one of the more extremist militias that sprang to notoriety during the Lebanese civil war. The Al Mawsul writer states the Iranian ambassador to Damascus at the time, Ali Mohtashami, was the key backer to Islamic Jihad and also helped establish Hezbollah. Al Maliki worked with Mohtashami and Sheikh Mohamed Abdel Halim Zuhairi and Imad Jawad Mughniyah (later killed), and Ali al-Moussawi in setting up Islamic Jihad, which participated in the bombings of the US and French embassies in Beirut as well as the infamous hijacking of the TWA flight (June 14, 1985) The photos are connected to the TWA Hijacking
    it’s mentioned by the writer that US navy airman Robert Stethem (name mispelled in the article) was tortured and murdered, his body thrown on the tarmac from that plane. The photos are from the ‘press conference’ the hijackers arranged and seated at the table are American hostages including pilot John Testrake (with white hair) and seated to his right (i think) is a young Nabih Berri (head of another Lebanese militia, Amal, and now a parliamentarian in Lebanon) with members of Hebollah as well as Islamic Jihad present. The author states the guy whose face is in the red circle is a young Nuri Al Maliki. The article ends with the writer expressing his desire to warn members of Congress and asking how can someone who has taken actions against the Iraqi people and against the assistance from the US in independence, freedom, and progress and other things be supported by the US and President Bush?”

    HW Bush. Note “Address to the Nation Announcing the Deployment of United States Armed Forces to Saudi Arabia”, 08AUG90.

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

  31. UNMOVIC confirmation that “Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687” (UNSCR 1441) in Saddam’s “final opportunity to comply” (UNSCR 1441). See the explanation of the law and policy, fact basis of OIF with the primary sources of the mission.

    Your Man and your spy tells different story, I do not think your most knowledgeable than him specially he was on ground there and he done marvelous job.
    (In on of his lasted visit he jumped across the fence I do not know how he survive as those Saddam spacial forces so idiots they shoot any one)

    Let me begin by saying, we were almost all wrong, and I certainly include myself here.
    Sen. [Edward] Kennedy knows very directly. Senator Kennedy and I talked on several occasions prior to the war that my view was that the best evidence that I had seen was that Iraq indeed had weapons of mass destruction.
    I would also point out that many governments that chose not to support this war — certainly, the French president, [Jacques] Chirac, as I recall in April of last year, referred to Iraq’s possession of WMD.
    The Germans certainly — the intelligence service believed that there were WMD.
    It turns out that we were all wrong, probably in my judgment, and that is most disturbing.

    David Kay at Senate hearing

  32. “Nouri al-Maliki’s divisive rule helped create crisis in Iraq”

    Initially, during the so-called U.S surge in 2008 against al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Maliki helped in the fight against the insurgency and was considered even-handed in going after Sunni and Shia extremists, Mansoor said.

    “That turned out not to be the case in the long run,” Mansoor said. “Once he thought he had won, then he was ready to go after his political enemies, and he viewed those enemies very much in a sectarian lens.”

    I wonder what could possibly have happened after 2008 that caused Maliki to change like that?

  33. “I met with US Academic before 2003 invasion, he asked if Iraqis will receive the US troops by showering Flowers on them! I replied to him NO?”


    In the giddy spirit of the day, nothing could quite top the wish list bellowed out by one man in the throng of people greeting American troops from the 101st Airborne Division who marched into town today.

    What, the man was asked, did he hope to see now that the Baath Party had been driven from power in his town? What would the Americans bring?

    ”Democracy,” the man said, his voice rising to lift each word to greater prominence. ”Whiskey. And sexy!”

    Around him, the crowd roared its approval.

    Unfortunately, we squandered that goodwill with our failure to anticipate al Qaeda leading a guerrilla war.

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