Posts Tagged ‘Military’

“The War George W. Bush Had Won, Barack Obama Had Lost”

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

This video is an antidote to the widespread revisionism that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a debacle from beginning to end and that George W. Bush was responsible for the rise of the Islamic State. One can question the wisdom of many decisions involved in the conduct of the that war, but the fact is that The Surge had largely succeeded in pacifying Iraq and that the country was functioning quite well by the very lose standards of the Middle East before Barack Obama withdrew American troops, facilitating the rise of the Islamic State.

(Hat tip: Legal Insurrection.)

Battle of Raqqa Grinds On

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

News from the Battle of Raqqa is hard to come by.

U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have reportedly linked up to completely surround Islamic State forces. The Islamic State had already been surrounded on land, but their access to a small stretch of the Euphrates allowed some passage of fighters and supplies. That’s now gone.

Here’s another Livemap screen cap:

Compare that with this screen cap a month ago:

It’s obvious that the SDF have taken more of south and southwestern Raqqa.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State itself is making claims of a successful counter-offensive…that seemed to consist of four car bombs.

Here’s an interview that suggests that conditions for remaining residents of Islamic State-held Raqqa are desperate, which is exactly what you would expect of modern urban warfare in a besieged city.

The battle is an urban street fight where IS relies on snipers and traps [IEDs]. From what I’ve been able to gather, Islamic State numbers do not exceed 400 fighters.

The SDF is slowly advancing with air support from the coalition.

It’s clear that IS has no intention of giving up easily.

That 400 fighters would be encouraging, if true, but it’s probably too low. Yesterday’s fighting reportedly killed 95 Islamic State fighters, which would suggest they’re quickly running out of fighters, but given the lack of a sudden collapse in Islamic State resistance, this seems unlikely.

Indeed, Syrian Kurdish commander Haval Gabar says that the capture of Raqqa could take up to four months:

“We’ve cleared about half of Old Raqqa … and we’re advancing on all axes,” said Haval Gabar, the 25-year-old commander from the Kurdish YPG militia who is directing the assault on the Old City front in Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold.

Units of the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the YPG, fully linked up in Raqqa’s southern districts on Tuesday, encircling the militants in the city center which includes the Old City.

“The day before yesterday there was still a small gap,” Gabar said on Wednesday. “Yesterday it was closed. We are now pressing towards Mansour and Rashid districts.”

If you wonder why those northern battle lines seem static, it’s evidently because they’re heavily mined.

Gabar said that despite resistance, several hundred militants had surrendered themselves, and estimates not more than 1,000 are left. He believes their morale “is zero”.

“Maybe 600 Daesh have surrendered. It’s mostly foreign fighters left in the city now. Those with families tend to be the ones to hand themselves over.”

Gabar said that Chechen snipers were especially deadly.

Supposedly even the Russians are helping out:

After a sweeping Syrian military advance to the edge of the besieged Isis “capital” of Raqqa, the Russians, the Syrian army and Kurds of the YPG militia – theoretically allied to the US – have set up a secret “coordination” centre in the desert of eastern Syria to prevent “mistakes” between the Russian-backed and American-supported forces now facing each other across the Euphrates river.

That piece is by Robert Fisk, who says he thinks the Syrian army will be heading toward Deir ez-Zor, where Syrian army units have been besieged by the Islamic State since 2014. But keep in mind this is the man for whom the word “Fisking” was coined, so add as many grains of salt as you see fit…

LinkSwarm for August 11, 2017

Friday, August 11th, 2017

North Korea is making crazy threats again, which at this point is a dog-bites-man type story if ever there was one. They’ve done this sort of crazy lunatic invalid sabre-rattling before and, if President Trump doesn’t end up wiping them off the map entirely, will undoubtedly do it again. But it doesn’t change the underlying dynamic of the situation: North Korea can hurt us, but we can completely erase North Korea from the Prime Material Plane. So unless actual military action occurs, I doubt I have much to say (or link to) on North Korea…

  • NSA says no Russian hack of DNC computers. “Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system.” Will the Trump Derangement Brigades finally let go of their Russian hacking fantasy? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Why Does the Left Suddenly Hate Russia?”

    The new progressive hatred of Russia is baffling. Of course, Vladimir Putin is a thug and a killer who in the grand tradition of Russian autocracy has no intention ever of holding free elections. But he is perhaps no more a murderer than are the Castro brothers in Cuba, with whom we have concluded a détente and who have no arsenal capable of destroying the U.S.

    Putin is no more or less trustworthy than are the Iranians, with whom in 2015 we cut a deal on nuclear proliferation and who are far more likely than the Russians to send a nuclear missile into Israel someday. Putin’s brutal suppression of the press recalls the ongoing repression by President Recep Erdogan of Turkey — a linchpin member of NATO.

    There is no freedom in China. The Communists still in control have the blood of 50 million Chinese dead on their hands from Mao’s brutal revolutions and genocides. Yet we enjoy all sorts of cultural, political, and economic bipartisan relationships with China, whose nuclear patronage of North Korea has done more damage to U.S. security than any plot from the dark mind of Vladimir Putin.

    In terms of Russia’s macabre history, Putin is a piker compared with Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin, who may have orchestrated the deaths of 20 million Russians. After December 1941, the United States concluded a “Big Three” wartime pact with Stalin and supplied 20 percent of the Soviet Union’s wartime resources and arms — some of it later lavishly recycled to post-war Communist uprisings around the globe.

  • “Australian terror suspect planted plane bomb on brother.” And of course the BBC puts this information 17 paragraphs into the story: “The two suspects – Khaled Khayat, 49, and Mahmoud Khayat, 32.”
  • Democrats are screwed in 2018…and beyond:

    Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats.

    Snip.

    In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York — states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states — think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia — that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.

    Snip.

    Consider: In 1980, there were 18 states where the presidential margin was at least 5 points more Democratic than the national result, 18 states where it was at least 5 points more Republican than the national result and 14 states in between. Hypothetically, over three successive election cycles, all either party needed to do to win a Senate majority was win all 36 of the seats in the friendly states plus at least 15 of the 28 swing-state seats.

    Today, Republicans don’t even need to win any “swing states” to win a Senate majority: 52 seats are in states where the 2016 presidential margin was at least 5 percentage points more Republican than the national outcome. By contrast, there are just 28 seats in states where the margin was at least 5 points more Democratic, and only 20 seats in swing states.

  • 23% of federal prisoners are illegal aliens.
  • Former “sanctuary cities” in Clark County in Nevada and Miami-Dade County in Florida have confirmed they’re now in compliance with federal immigration law. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “For Fear Of Leaks, Google Cancels All-Hands Meeting Over Engineer Firing Fiasco.” Google went full Social Justice Warrior. Never go full Social Justice Warrior…
  • Christina Hoff Sommers: “Google has excommunicated James Damore for crimes against the Pink Police State.”
  • Trump Appoints More Judges in 200 Days Than Obama, Bush, Clinton.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “Perhaps the Second Amendment is the black man’s ultimate sign of full citizenship.” Also this: “The National African-American Gun Association he founded has grown from 800 to 20,000 members since 2015.” Though the piece is marbled with the usual leftwing “America the racist” framing. (Hat tip: Shall not Be Questioned.)
  • This is, I think, a grave miscarriage of justice: man convicted of DUI for driving in and out of his own garage while drunk, never leaving his own property, which strikes me as a takings clause violation.
  • Julian Castro forms a PAC. Possibly eyeing a 2020 Presidential run? Well he’s certainly not going to win statewide…
  • Democrats “pro-worker” policies hurt workers. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Why is Spain arresting European journalists on Turkey’s behalf? Swedish citizen Hamza Yalcin is in jail for “treason” which seems to mean “criticizing the Erdogan regime.” (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • How Japan could have won World War II. “Win” in this case is not “pummeling America into submission” (impossible) but “making the costs of a protracted war so high that it avoids defeat.” Not striking Pearl Harbor was one key possibility. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Giant mech fight! Finally, the 21st Century I was promised! (The headline says “robots” but the video clearly shows piloted vehicles.) Now, from an actual military standpoint, that under-armored, under-powered mech is going to last about 15 seconds on a real battlefield and could be taken out by a single RPG (or any 8-year quick enough to jam a crowbar into the exposed, undersized tread gears), much less a real tank…
  • NY Times Editors Deny Reading Their Own Newspaper.”
  • “Emails Show WaPo, NYT Reporters Didn’t Want to Cover Clinton-Lynch Tarmac Meeting.”
  • Paper beats rock. Rock beats Mexican. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • I hate linking to ESPN given its SJW turn, but this profile of fighter Conor McGregor was too good not to.
  • Neanderthal cave structure dated to 176,500 years ago.
  • The fate of Viking settlers in Greenland. (Hat tip: Jerry Pournelle.)
  • Tweets:

    I encourage Antifa to buy a Soviet tank. They’ll discover tanks are cool, which will be a gateway drug to learning that guns are cool, after which it’s only a matter of time until they’re eating BBQ, driving pickup trucks and listening to Garth Brooks…

  • Light Attack Aircraft: A Niche That Doesn’t Exist

    Monday, August 7th, 2017

    The Air Force has an experimental program to deliver a low-cost light attack aircraft for ground support duties. The light attack aircraft experiment, or OA-X project, has produced propeller-driven aircraft that look like a cross between a Diamond DA40 and a rejected ME-109 prototype with modern weapons on underwing hardpoints.

    The program theoretically exists because it’s not cost-effective to use an F-35 (at $32,000 per hour of flight time) to kill poorly-armed insurgents.

    I think the entire program is bunk. (And not just because John McCain is pushing for it.)

    It’s not that the need for a light, low-cost aerial attack platform doesn’t exist, it’s just that there’s no military or technological justification (at least in the American armed forces) for that platform to be a manned aircraft. Those mission parameters are already satisfied by cheaper drones whose capabilities continue to improve by leaps and bounds. The problem isn’t that the Air Force can’t fly drones (the MQ-9 Reaper is extremely capable), but that the Army, the Navy, the Marines and the CIA can all fly them as well.

    The entire Light Attack Aircraft program exists because of an inter-service political issue: The Air Force neither wants to do close air support, nor wants to give up that role to the Army. Put a pilot in a fixed-wing aircraft, and the Air Force gets to keep the mission, along with the money and headcount that go with it.

    And as for why the Air Force keeps trying to kill the one plane they already have perfectly suited for ground support, the A-10 Warthog, well, I and others have already written about that at length. As Jerry Pournelle once put it, “USAF will always retire hundreds of Warthog to buy another F-35. Always, so long as it exists. And it will never give up a mission.”

    LinkSwarm for August 4, 2017

    Friday, August 4th, 2017

    Friday! LinkSwarm! The day is already packed, so let’s get this puppy out the door…

  • West Virginia’s Governor Jim Justice announced at a rally with President Trump that he’s switching to the Republican Party. Since Trump won West Virginia by over 40 points in 2016, that seems less “smart” than “inevitable.” West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin says he’s still staying a Democrat. We’ll see…
  • Do Democrats realize how much trouble they’re in?

    By tomorrow, 164 million Americans will live in the 26 states that are wholly controlled by Republicans, 109 million will live in states where power is shared between the parties, and only 50 million will live in the six states controlled by the Democrats.

    Those who run the Democratic Party spend their time overwhelmingly in Washington, California and New York, and they read the New York Times and the Washington Post. They watch CNN and MSNBC, along with network news. As a result, I am not sure they are fully attuned to how unpopular their party has become in most of America. They may win a tactical victory against President Trump, whose inexperience and personality make him vulnerable. But I suspect that very few voters are responding to the Democrats’ daily assault on the administration by saying, In the next election I am going to change my mind and vote liberal! On the contrary, it may be that the Democrats’ hysterical, unprecedented assault on the president will prove to be a distraction that actually retards their ability to address their party’s long-term decline.

  • Lawyers in DNC Class-Action Suit ‘Perplexed’ by Media Blackout. Press ignores fraud case brought by 2016 Sanders backers against Democrat Party.” How severe a blackout? “A search on Google News for the name of the case in quotes “Wilding v. DNC” yields zero results.” Why, it’s almost as if the MSM considered itself an extension of the Democratic Party… (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears.” All this liberal and #NeverTrump talk about how the Trump White House is in “chaos” is like someone talking incessantly about what the magician’s right hand is doing while completely ignoring his left… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Media keep overplaying their hand, especially with the Trump/Russia delusion. Even Democrats are getting tired of it…
  • “Trump pushes to sharply cut the number of legal immigrants and move U.S. to a ‘merit-based’ immigration system.” Expect this to be widely popular with the public and DOA with those congressional Republicans still freebasing “comprehensive immigration reform”/illegal alien amnesty…
  • Speaking of that proposal, here White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller delivers a brutal smackdown to CNN’s rude and clueless Jim Acosta, who seems painfully ignorant of the history of the Statue of Liberty.
  • And speaking of people Miller smacked down, he also corrected New York Times’ Glenn Thrush (who you may remember from such movies as I Sought Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Approval on All My Copy About the 2016 Election) that low-skilled immigrants do indeed drive down wages for native workers. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Four Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicle clerks charged with making fake IDs for illegal aliens and registering them to vote. Remember: When Democrats tell you there’s no such thing as voter fraud, they’re not only lying, their party is the one committing the fraud. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Illegal alien apprehensions up almost double since President Trump took office. (Hat tip: Mickey Kaus.)
  • Liberals: “We can’t let ICE pick up illegal aliens just because they’re breaking the law!” Ice: “OK, then, we’ll just pick them up at the courthouse.” (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Putin expels 755 American diplomats in retaliation for new sanctions. If they’re Obama holdovers, that could be a net plus…
  • “Twitter’s “burn rate” has increased in the past year to the point that they’re now losing $38.8 million each month.”
  • The Twitter account of Breitbart London editor in chief Raheem Kassam has been suspended by the platform, just days after he announced the forthcoming publication of his new book on Radical Islam.” The book in question is No Go Zones: How Sharia Law Is Coming to a Neighborhood Near You, due out August 14.
  • “Your boyfriend raped you.” “No he didn’t.” “Shut up and say you were raped. USC knows what’s best.”
  • The rise of the illiberal media:

    We aren’t dealing with a liberal media anymore, but an illiberal media. The liberal media was content to use its institutional power as a megaphone to broadcast its views. But you could debate those views. Actual conservatives were allowed to write columns, and not just as a strategic attack on some element of the GOP the way it is now, and appear on television to offer opinions, and not just as punching bags.

    The liberal media was convinced it would win the argument because it was right.

    The illiberal media isn’t interested in winning an argument, but in silencing the opposition. It doesn’t just want to shout louder than you. It wants to use its institutional power to shut you up.

    This isn’t just a media phenomenon. It’s what happened across the social spectrum when the people we used to call liberals became illiberal leftists. It’s why colleges censor controversial speakers and punish dissenting faculty. It’s why the environmental debate went from scientific discussions to calls to punish, fine and even jail those who question the left’s Luddite alarmism on Global Warming.

    It’s why the debate over gay marriage shifted to punishing Christian bakers and florists, the arguments about Israel tilted to preventing musicians from performing in Tel Aviv and civil rights turned into a call to create “safe spaces” that ban everyone else. Diversity is no longer dressed up as an expansion, but is now explicitly a contraction. Don’t read books by white authors. Don’t hire more men. Kick Jews out of the gay rights rally. Send the IRS after conservative groups. Punch a Trump supporter in the face.

    Nearly every leftist cause these days is expressed by punishing someone. Arguments are won by force. The illiberal totalitarian lurking inside the liberal, as David Horowitz described it, is out of the closet.

  • “A local council has banned the construction of a synagogue in Bondi [Australia] because it could be a terrorist target.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Three months after inauguration, French President Emmanuel Macron is now less popular than President Trump. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Dallas: It’s another attack by a group of people on a single train rider where the racial characteristics of the attacker are clearly visible in the video, but never mentioned
  • Good: Government realizes the Internet-of-Things is deeply insecure. Bad: Trying to pass a law to fix it. That’s like trying to darn a sock with a pipe wrench…
  • “Apple Now Owns $51.5 Billion In Treasurys, More Than Mexico, Turkey Or Norway.”
  • Tam: “How to Carry Concealed In a Purse (If You Must).” (Hat tip: Shall not Be Questioned.)
  • Zero Hedge has another of those the auto industry is doomed pieces, but this time it’s about longevity surpassing demand, not the usual one about off-lease vehicles…
  • MRE reviewed. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Tweet:

  • Man, the pollen is just brutal this time of year.
  • LinkSwarm for July 28, 2017

    Friday, July 28th, 2017

    Supposed to hit 104° in Austin today, and 106° tomorrow. Try to keep your cool…

  • “Why Was Wife of DWS’s Swindler Staffer Allowed to Leave the Country?”

    In early March [Imran’s] wife, Hina Alvi, suddenly left the country for Lahore, by way of Doha, Qatar. Notwithstanding the return flight she booked for a date in September 2017, the FBI believes that she actually has no intention to return to the U.S. She had abruptly pulled the couple’s three daughters out of school without alerting the school’s staff, and brought them with her — along with lots of luggage and household goods — to Pakistan.

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • Mark Steyn on Tucker Carlson: Everything Democrats have looked for and not found in the Russia wild goose chase is actually, demonstrably present in the Imran Awan case:

    Steyn also notes: Why worry whether Vladimir Putin gave the DNC emails to Wikileaks when Debbie Wasserman Schultz just gave Imran Awan her DNC iPad password? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • “The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it’s not going to work.” Also: “Occam’s Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?” Note that both Steyn and American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson invoke Occam’s Razor to conclude that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was being blackmailed. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • This eye-opening Lee Smith piece in Tablet mag not only details how Fusion GPS came to gun up the Trump Russian fantasy (and how it’s plating both sides of the fence on Russia), but how deep research is now outsourced to opposition research firms:

    Donald Trump, Jr. appears to be the latest figure in President Donald Trump’s inner circle to be caught in the giant web of the Great Kremlin Conspiracy. Trump the younger said he was promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, but that all he got in his June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer was an earful about dropping the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russian officials involved in the death of a Russian lawyer who was killed in detention.

    If the Trump, Jr. meeting is just another chapter in the Beltway telenovela about Trump selling out America to the Russians through an ever-changing cast of supposed intermediaries—come back, Mike Flynn and Carter Page, we hardly knew ye—it sheds valuable light on the ways and means by which the news that fills our iPhone screens and Facebook feeds is now produced. You see, the Russian lawyer—often carelessly presented as a “Russian government lawyer” with “close ties to Putin”—Natalia Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump, also worked recently with a Washington, D.C. “commercial research and strategic intelligence firm” that is also believed to have lobbied against the Magnitsky Act. That firm, which also doubles as an opposition research shop, is called Fusion GPS—famous for producing the Russia dossier distributed under the byline of Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence agent for hire.

    Steele’s report, a collection of anonymously-sourced allegations, many of which were said to come from “high-ranking former Russian government officials”—i.e. not exactly the kinds of people who seem likely to randomly shoot the shit with ex-British spooks—detailed Trump’s ties to Russian officials and strange sexual obsessions. Originally ordered up by one of Trump’s Republican challengers, the dossier circulated widely in D.C. in the months before the 2016 election, pushed by the Clinton campaign, but no credible press organization was able to verify its claims. After Clinton’s surprise loss, the dossier became public, and it’s claims—while still unverified—have shaped the American public sphere ever since.

    Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

    As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

    Snip.

    For the past seven years, I’ve reported on and written about American foreign policy and what I saw as troubling trends in how we describe and debate our relationship to the rest of the world. What I’ve concluded during that period is that the fractious nature of those arguments—over the Iran Deal, for instance, or the war in Syria, or Russia’s growing role in the Middle East and elsewhere—is a symptom of a problem here at home. The issue is not about this or that foreign policy. Rather, the problem is that the mediating institutions that enabled Americans to debate and decide our politics and policies, here and abroad, are deeply damaged, likely beyond repair.

    The shape of the debate over the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action illustrated this most clearly. The Obama White House turned the press into an instrument used not only to promote its initiatives, but also to drown out and threaten and shame critics and potential opponents, even within the president’s own party. Given the financial exigencies of a media whose business model had been broken by the internet, mismanagement, and the rise of social media as the dominant information platform, the prestige press sacrificed its independence for access to power. If for instance, your beat was national security, it was difficult at best to cross the very few sources of power in Washington that controlled access to information. Your job depended on it. And there are increasingly fewer jobs in the press.

    Read the whole thing.

  • Breakdown of Fusion GPS toes to Russia. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Another day, another failed ObamaCare repeal vote in the Senate, although the “skinny repeal” was nothing to write home about, Republicans John McCain, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against it.
  • While we were concentrating on the Islamic State, the Taliban seized three districts in Afghanistan:

    The Afghan Taliban has overrun three districts previously held by the Afghan government in the provinces of Paktia, Faryab and Ghor over the past several days. The Taliban is demonstrating that it can sustain operations in all theaters of Afghanistan. The three districts are located in three different regions of the country.

    The district of Jani Khel in Paktia, a known stronghold of the Haqqani Network – the powerful Taliban subgroup that is based in eastern Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s tribal areas – fell to the Taliban earlier today after several days of heavy fighting, according to Afghan officials and the Taliban. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the district headquarters buildings, the police headquarters and all security checkpoints are under his group’s control. Fighting is underway at a nearby military base.

    Jani Khel was effectively under Taliban control. At the end of March, the group claimed that all but six percent of the district, including the district center, was under Afghan government control.

    The districts of Taywara in Ghor in central Afghanistan, and Kohistan (or Lolash) in Faryab in the northwest fell to the Taliban on July 23 after several days of fighting. TOLONews confirmed that the two districts are now Taliban controlled and “government forces have not yet launched military operations to re-capture these districts.”

    The Taliban has also claimed it seized control of Pusht Koh in Farah province and Guzargah in Baghlan, however the reports cannot be independently confirmed. However Taliban reports on the takeover of districts have proven accurate in the pasts.

    The loss of the three districts shows that the Taliban is capable of conducting operations in all regions of the country. Even as the three districts fell, the Taliban is on the offensive in all of the other regions. Afghan security forces, which are sustaining record highs in casualties and desertions, is largely on the defensive in most areas of the country.

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • The awful time Yazidi girls have recovering from Islamic State sexual slavery.
  • Liberals freak out over President Trump’s no trannies in the military policy. I don’t think most of America realized our military had trannies. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Defense of same ban by wounded Iraq veteran.
  • Texas special session update. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick has gotten the Senate to consider and pass 18 bills in just the first week. Meanwhile, Speaker Joe Straus’ House hasn’t even considered most in committee yet.
  • Kid Rock can win.
  • Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke outraised Ted Cruz in Q2 for the 2018 Texas Senate race, but Cruz still has $5.7 million cash on hand.
  • Flashback: Trump has no path to 270 electoral votes. (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • We were close to nabbing Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in 2015 until a leak to the New York Times dried up information.
  • Congress passes veto-proof sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea.
  • Sweden now has 61 “no go” zones, up from 55 last year. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Convicted felon Brett Kimberlin loses in court yet again. “Nearly four years after Brett Kimberlin sued Patrick Frey, myself and numerous other defendants (including Michelle Malkin, Breitbart.com and Red State) in a bogus federal RICO suit, the case has finally concluded with Judge George Hazel granting Frey summary judgment.”
  • Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn to build $10 billion display plant in Wisconsin.
  • President Trump gets a huge welcome in Youngstown, Ohio. Bonus: People interviewed are sick and tired of hearing about Russia. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • “Greece Arrests Russian ‘Mastermind’ Behind $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme.”
  • Dwight has DEFCON and Black Hat rundowns for you computer security boffins. Plus regular updates.
  • Appeals court invalidates D.C.’s ‘good reason’ constraint on public carry of firearms.”

    Because the District’s good-reason law merits invalidation under Heller regardless of its precise benefits, we would be wasting judicial resources if we remanded for the [lower] court to develop the records in these cases. … We vacate both orders below and remand with instructions to render permanent injunctions against enforcement of the District’s good-reason law.

  • NSA expert hacks “smart gun” with $1.5 million supercomputer. And by “NSA expert” I mean a random hacker and by $1.5 million supercomputer I mean $15 worth of magnets. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • 15 pro-illegal alien protestors arrested for blocking traffic near the capitol in Austin. Bonus: Only five actually reside in Texas.
  • Swarthmore commies disband after realizing they were all middle upper class white people. Also, “Swarthmore Commies” would make a good name for a rock band.
  • My piece on ISIS-pledged terrorist groups made it to Zero Hedge. Which I’m happy about. But the comments do seem to be much more Israeli/Jewish conspiracy theory-heavy than I’ve seen there in the past…
  • Speaking of which, no, Edward Snowden did not say that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s is really an Israeli Jew named Elliot Shimon. In fact, he specifically denied saying that through his lawyer.
  • Charlie Gard, RIP.
  • “A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper…an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes.”
  • Nice house, lots of room. The decoration scheme is a little…wait a minute…”
  • Islamic State Affiliated Groups And Their Current Status

    Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

    According to this Intel Center list, there are currently 43 worldwide terrorist groups which have pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State. I started wondering how many of those were active, how many weren’t covered by that list, and what was the most recent documented activity of each. Hence this list.

    I started with the Intel Center list, found the most recent activity (if any) for the group listed, added a few groups I knew they were missing, and alphabetized the whole thing (it was originally group by country). I don’t speak Arabic, so this list is not alphabetized the way an Arab scholar might alphabetize it. I’ve given alternate names and spellings where known, but this information is almost certainly not complete. I’ve tried to distinguish between similarly named groups, but it’s still entirely possibly I’ve gotten something wrong. Terrorist groups form, splinter and die-off all the time.

    File all this under “first cut,” “incomplete” and “work in progress.”

  • Abu Sayyaf Group [Philippines]: Attempts to arrest Abu Sayyaf head Isnilon Hapilon are what evidently set off the fighting in Marawi City.
  • al-Ansar Battalion [Algeria]: Defectors from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), supposedly less than 10 fighters, and I see no evidence of recent activity. Not to be confused with other jihadist al-Ansar Battalions, such as those in the Syrian Free Army or the Ma’arakat al-Ansar Battalion in the Sulu archipelago of the Philippines.
  • al-Ghurabaa [Algeria]: No recent news. Not to be confused with the UK radical islamic group of the same name.
  • al-Huda Battalion in Maghreb of Islam [Algeria]: May have been absorbed into Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria (see below).
  • al-Shabaab Jubba Region Cell Bashir Abu Numan [Somalia]: Bashir Abu Numan was a commander for al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab commander who defected to the Islamic State with some 20 fighters late in 2015, and who was later killed by al-Shabaab’s Amniyat death squads. Possibly moribund.
  • al-I’tisam of the Koran and Sunnah [Sudan]: Apparently no activity since January 2016, when some of its supporters were released from prison.
  • al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan]: Not seeing any under that name, but there’s lots of news about “Islamic State in Khorasan,” namely fierce fighting against U.S. troops over the last four months, with their leader being killed in an air strike.
  • Ansar al-Islam [Iraq]: Appears to have merged with the Islamic State proper. Not to be confused with other groups named Ansar al-Islam, including a Bangladeshi group of that name affiliated with al Qaeda.
  • Ansar al-Khilafah [Philippines]: There are reports that some 40 Ansar al-Khilafah fighters joined Maute for the assault on Marawi City.
  • Ansar al-Tawhid in India [India]: Beyond issuing a call to kill non-Muslims in 2014, it does not seem to be very active.
  • Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) [Phillippines]: BIFF is another group that seems to be participating in the fighting on Mindanao, and members were covered in a recent Filipino Department of National Defense arrest orders.
  • Bangsmoro Justice Movement (BJM) [Phillippines]: BJM is a breakaway splinter from BIFF, and does not seem to have any notable activity since pledging allegiance to the Islamic State.
  • Boko Haram (AKA the Islamic State in West Africa, AKA Group of the People of Sunnah for Preaching and Jihad) [Nigeria]: Still very active, and participated in a running gun battle with police in Kano Sunday. Estimates of Boko Haram’s size range from 4,000 to 20,000 fighters.
  • Central Sector of Kabardino-Balakria of the Caucasus Emirate [Russia]: Can’t find any recent information. Presumably defectors from the crumbling Caucasus Emirate.
  • Djamaat Houmat ad-Da’wa as-Salafiya (DHDS) [Algeria]: Another Algerian terrorist group that does not seem to have done much of anything.
  • Faction of Katibat al-Imam Bukhari [Syria]: All the reports I can fund on Katibat al-Imam Bukhari seem to refer to them as an Uzbek Islamist group, some of which seem to be fighting in Syria under Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, AKA the Al-Nusra Front, which split off from the Islamic State, was at one time affiliated with al Qaeda, and now is theoretically independent of both.
  • Heroes of Islam Brigade in Khorasan [Afghanistan]: See al-Tawheed Brigade in Khorasan.
  • Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) [Pakistan/Uzbekistan]: Actively fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
  • Islamic State in Afghanistan: Not in the Intel Center list. Actively fighting against both U.S. troops and the Taliban. Reported to have ties to the Pakistani ISI, which wouldn’t surprise me at all.
  • Islamic State Libya (Darnah) [Libya]: Egyptian warplanes hit them in May in response for their involvement in killing Egyptian Copts.
  • Islamic Youth Shura Council [Libya]: Evidently still active in 2017. “Established an Islamic court and police authority in Benghazi. The group is notorious for decapitating swaths of residents from both Derna and Benghazi.”
  • Jaish al-Sahabah in the Levant [Syria]: No recent news, possibly absorbed into the Islamic State or other factions in the Syrian civil war.
  • Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (AKA Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, AKA Wilayat Sinai, AKA Ansar Jerusalem, AKA Ansar Jerusalem, AKA Supporters of the Holy Place) [Egypt]: Turned into the Sinai Province of the Islamic State. One of its members was killed by Egyptian security forces last week.
  • Jemaah Islamiyah [Philippines/Indonesia]: Very active in various bombing campaigns in Indonesia, but have evidently been relatively quiet since 2015.
  • Jemaah Anshorut (or Jamaah Ansharut) Tauhid (JAT) [Indonesia]: Evidently the successor to several other jihadist groups in Indonesia, Stratfor describes it as “sputtering,” and the pledge of allegiance to al-Baghdadi caused several members to split into still another terrorist group.
  • Jund al-Khilafah in Egypt [Egypt]: No recent news, probably merged into the Sinai Province of the Islamic State. See Jamaat Ansar Bait al-Maqdis.
  • Jund al-Khilafah in Tunisia [Tunisia]: They recently killed the brother of a shepherd they had also killed in 2015. But the group is also said to be gathering strength in the mountains.
  • Jundullah [Pakistan]: Jundullah carried out several attacks in Pakistan between 2012 and 2015, and is thought to be a member of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan umbrella jihadi group, not all of which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. There’s a seperate Jundallah in Iran that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
  • Khalid ibn al-Walid Army [Syria]. Not on Intel Center list. Syrian jihad group that merged with Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade, also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and reportedly controls territory in southern Syria along the Golan Heights.
  • Leaders of the Mujahid in Khorasan (ten former TTP commanders) [Pakistan]: Not finding any recent information on this splinter group.
  • Lions of Libya [Libya]: No news since they reportedly pledged their allegiance in 2014.
  • Liwa Ahrar al-Sunna in Baalbek [Lebanon]: Claimed credit for a car bomb attacked that killed a Hezbollah leader in 2014. (Remember, as a Shi’a militia/terrorist group, members of Hezbollah are automatically on the Islamic State’s “kill on sight” list.)
  • Martyrs of al-Yarmouk Brigade [Syria]: Evidently merged with other groups into the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, which has also pledged loyalty to the Islamic State and reportedly controls territory in southern Syria.
  • Maute (AKA Islamic State in Lanao) [Philippines]: Not in the Intel Center list. The primary group responsible for the fighting in Marawi City. Reportedly led by brothers Omarkhayam and Abdullah Maute.
  • Mujahideen Indonesia Timor (MIT) (AKA East Indonesia Mujahideen EIM) [Indonesia]: Do not seem to have been active after their leader, Abu Wardah Santoso, was killed in 2016.
  • Mujahideen of Tunisia of Kairouan [Tunisia]: Not seeing any notable news since 2015, when they carried out a deadly beach attack.
  • Mujahideen of Yemen [Yemen]: Possibly absorbed into the Islamic State in Yemen (AKA Wilayat Sana) proper.
  • Mujahideen Shura Council in the Environs of Jerusalem (MSCJ) [Egypt/Gaza]: Intel Center says Egypt, other sources say they’re active only in Gaza. Since Hamas has not pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, they seem to have been pretty thoroughly suppressed there.
  • The Nokhchico Wilayat of the Caucasus Emirate [Russia]: Can’t find any recent information. Presumably defectors from the crumbling Caucasus Emirate.
  • Okba Ibn Nafaa Battalion [Tunisia]: Two members were killed in a raid by Tunisian forces, but they were described as “an al-Qaeda-linked group.”
  • Shura Council of Shabab al-Islam Darnah [Libya]: No news since significant defeats in 2014.
  • The Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria (AKA Jund al-Khilafah fi Ard al-Jazair, AKA Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Algeria Province) [Algeria]: It’s possible that the June 6 Paris hammer attacker may have been a member. If not, they seem to have been largely ineffective. “For the past two years, the Algerian military has stopped 44 members of a local armed group called ‘Soldiers of the Caliphate’ that swore allegiance to the leader of Daesh, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.”
  • Supporters for the Islamic State in Yemen [Yemen]: Like Mujahideen of Yemen, not a lot of news.
  • Supporters of the Islamic State in the Land of the Two Holy Mosques [Saudi Arabia]: Nothing since they shot a Danish national back in 2014.
  • Tehreek-e-Khilafat [Pakistan]: Though it has roots in a movement advocating resistance to British rule during World War I, evidently Tehreek-e-Khilafat has been amalgamated into Wilayat Khorasan, the South and Central Asian “chapter” of the Islamic State, along with “Khilafat Afghan (former Afghan Taliban), the Tehreek-e-Khilafat Pakistan (former TTP), Tehreek-e-Khilafat Khorasan (former TTP), the Omar Ghazi group, the Muslimdost group, the Azizullah Haqqani group (former Afghan Taliban), the Shamali Khilafat, the Jaish-ul-Islam, the Harakat Khilafat Baluch, the Mullah Bakhtwar group (former TTP), the Jaish-ul-Islam and the China-oriented Gansu Hui group created by WK members themselves.” Together they are thought to number some 1,000-3,000 fighters.
  • USS Gerald R. Ford Commissioned

    Monday, July 24th, 2017

    On Saturday, President Donald Trump helped commission the USS Gerald R. Ford, a new aircraft carrier and the first of her class.

    The Ford is the first complete carrier redesign since the launch of the Nimitz class in 1975. The Ford has a number of innovative features that distinguish it from Nimitz-class carriers:

  • It can launch about 33% more aircraft than previous carriers.
  • It has a crew of 2,600 sailors, 600 less than a Nimitz class carrier.
  • Two new nuclear reactors, giving he Ford 250—300% more electrical capacity than previous carriers.
  • It uses a new Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) to launch aircraft rather than the old steam catapults. The linear acceleration puts less stress on aircraft frames.
  • Greatly improved duel-band (X and S) radar with a smaller footprint, allowing a smaller island (which is also situated further aft than previous characters).
  • A larger flight deck.
  • Aircraft lifts have been reduced from four to three.
  • Ordnance is moved via higher-capacity weapon lifts. “FEC’s Advanced Weapons Elevator demonstrates a 24,000-pound lift capacity, with 150% overload capacity. Designed to move at 150 feet per minute, it accelerates to full speed in 2 seconds. The state-of-the-art elevators increase capacity over 200% and speed by 50% compared to the legacy elevators.” Ordnance movement paths do not cross aircraft movement paths, reducing traffic problems in the hangars and on the flight deck and lowering rearming time.
  • Fully air-conditioned crew compartments.
  • The Ford’s more powerful reactors will allow it to mount laser defense weapons in the future.
  • Here’s a video of President Trump praising the ship’s namesake President and his naval career.

    Here’s President Trump’s entire speech:

    Here’s Captain Richard McCormack talking about the Ford’s shakedown cruise and the ship’s many innovations:

    Here’s a video showing EMALS being tested:

    The next Ford-class aircraft carrier, the USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79, not to be confused with the previous, already decommissioned USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) aircraft carrier, the US Navy’s last non-nuclear carrier) has already been laid down, and is scheduled to begin sea trials in 2018 and commissioned in 2020.

    Note that in his speech, President Trump called for a 355-ship, 12-carrier navy, which has lead to some talk of bringing the non-nuclear USS Kitty Hawk out of retirement. I think that’s unlikely, though stranger things have happened…

    LinkSwarm for July 21, 2017

    Friday, July 21st, 2017

    I’m getting to the point where my eyes automatically skip over stories with the words “Russia” or “Mueller” in the same way they skip over stories with the word “Kardashian.” So be advised the smattering of Russia news here is of the non-imaginary variety:

  • Hillary is even more unpopular than President Trump.
  • Liberals: “Democratic voters are fired up and ready to vote against Trump!” Polls: Eh, not so much.
  • To win back voters, Democrats need to be less annoying:

    No item in your life is too big or too small for this variety of liberal busybodying. On the one hand, the viral video you found amusing was actually a manifestation of the patriarchy. On the other hand, you actually have an irresponsibly large number of carbon-emitting children.

    All this scolding – this messaging that you should feel guilty about aspects of your life that you didn’t think were anyone else’s business – leads to a weird outcome when you go to vote in November.” The central premise is probably valid, but the piece itself is larded with lies and half-truths.

    True, but this piece comes with a very large caveat: In this course of describing why Social Justice Warriors annoy the living shit out of ordinary Americans, author Josh Berro (a registered Democrat) makes several sweeping assertions about the supposed popularity of tranny bathrooms, gay marriage and gun control that are simply false.

  • The real lessons of the Natalia Veselnitskaya affair. Including this:

    It’s clear that Natalia Veselnitskaya pulled a bait-and-switch on Donald Trump, Jr. She induced him to a meeting with the promise of information that could be used against Hillary Clinton, but delivered no such information. Instead, she used the meeting to lobby the son of the presumptive Republican nominee for president on the supposed evils of the Magnitsky Act.

    And this:

    Second, the pro-Russia element in Washington, D.C. is substantial and cuts across party and ideological lines. Dana Rohrabacher, dubbed Putin’s favorite congressman, is a conservative. Ron Dellums was among the most liberal members of Congress.

    Shame to hear that about Rohrabacher, who I did an interview with a long, long time ago.

  • The damage the Obama Administration did to the criminal justice system in America. “Under Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Department of Justice pushed the states to pass new laws. The goal was to make it impossible to hold repeat offenders in jail before trial. Why? Because so many repeat offenders are black.”
  • Still more about the madness at Evergreen State College. “I was told that I couldn’t go into the room because I was white.”
  • Trump ends Obama’s asinine CIA-run guns for Syrian jihadis program (though we’re still arming the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces). Naturally the MSM is spinning this as “Putin wins!”, but as I’ve argued before, we never had any national interest in arming anti-Assad jihadis in the first place.
  • President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are evidently telling Qatar and Saudi Arabia to play nice.
  • Iran says we’re violating the agreement Obama never bothered to have the Senate ratify. See if they can spin their centrifuges until the world’s smallest violin tumbles out.
  • Russia can’t modernize it’s one aircraft carrier because doing so might take ten years.
  • Turkey leaks secret locations of U.S. troops in Syria. With friends like these, who needs enemies? Turkey is long overdue for a reassessment of it’s NATO membership anyway… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Speaking of Turkey, here’s the latest on their tiff with Germany. (Also via Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Poland on verge of passing a law forcing all their supreme court justices over a certain age, except those reappointed by the justice minister, to retire. The EU is complaining it’s a “blow to a independent judiciary,” while the ruling conservative Law and Justice Party is saying its getting rid of a lot of holdover communist judges.
  • “The USA (where there is a War On Drugs under way) has 30 times the overdose death rates per capita as Portugal (which legalized or decriminalized essentially all drugs 15 years ago).”
  • Even if Congressional Republicans still can’t repeal ObamaCare (in which case we need to replace them), the Trump Administration still has many options to chip away at it.
  • Sen. John McCain diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Best wishes for his speedy recovery.
  • Kurt Schlichter says we must elect Kid Rock Senator, chiefly due to the conniptions it will induce in Never Trumpers like George Will and Bill Kristol.
  • Have Clinton donors lined up behind California Senator Kamala Harris as heir 2020 Presidential nominee? On the plus side, she would help shore up the Obama coalition among black voters. On the minus side, she does a much poorer job than Obama of hiding just far out on the left wing of the party she is. After all, this was a woman who preferred seeing Catholic hospitals serving the poor close unless they agreed to perform abortions.
  • The Washington Post is very, very upset that all their fake news isn’t moving their fake polls. “Maybe you shouldn’t have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. You built up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.”
  • “US Special Operators Are Moving Closer to the Fighting in Raqqa.” Evidence? “On July 17, 2017, pictures began to appear on social media of flat bed trucks carrying M1245A5 M-ATV mine protected vehicles. On July 20, 2017, additional images emerged of another convoy with more M1245s, as well as a number of up-armored Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.” The M1245A5 M-ATV is evidently only used by U.S. special forces. Bulldozers were also crucial to the battle of Mosul.
  • Up yours, Islamic State: bar reopens in Qaraqosh, Iraq, southeast of Mosul, liberated nine months ago.
  • This week Palestinians are rioting over (rolls dice) metal detectors.
  • Texas Speaker Joe Straus has received a no confidence vote from his hometown Bexar County Republicans.
  • “Nearly four out of every five dollars that Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren (D.) reported last quarter came from donors outside of her home state.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • “The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government’s regulatory footprint.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • The Juice is loose. Well, not really: O.J. Simpson will not be released on parole until at least October. While I believe Simpson did indeed get away with a double homicide, he was acquitted of that charge, and his current parole is in line with his time served on the robbery and kidnapping charges of which he was actually convicted. Now Simpson can get back to paying off his civil lawsuit judgment.
  • “Newsweek Settles with Journalist Smeared by Kurt Eichenwald.” So. Much. Stupidity. “Eichenwald inferred that the only possible means by which Trump could have come across the misattributed quote was purposeful collusion with the Russians, and that the Wikileaks documents themselves had been altered.” Although, to be absolutely fair to everyone’s favorite seizure-prone tentacle-porn fan, plaintiff Bill Moran did not exactly cover himself in glory either… (Hat tip: Lee Stranahan’s Twitter feed.)
  • Sting hardest hit.
  • The story behind the hundred most iconic movie props of all time. I would have gone with Stonehenge rather than the 11 knobs from This is Spinal Tap… (Hat tip: VA Viper.)
  • “DC Comics Reboots Snagglepuss as ‘Gay, Southern Gothic Playwright.'” Honestly, I have so little interest in the original character this actually strikes me as an improvement. (Imagine the outrage if they brought back Scrappy Doo as an “antifa” agitator. That’s right, there wouldn’t be any, because everybody hates Scrappy Doo.) Though one wonders just who the audience is for this reboot; I doubt many urban hipsters will make their way to a comic store for the irony value…
  • No, get all the way off my lawn, you stupid kids!
  • The State of the War Against the Islamic State

    Thursday, July 13th, 2017

    The coalition of forces fighting the Islamic State continue to make steady advances on a number of fronts:

  • Mosul is liberated, though mop-up operations against tiny pockets of resistance continues. They just pulled 28 mostly foreign born militants out of tunnels. That sort of thing can continue for a while. The Washington Post has a nice overview of the campaign to retake Mosul.
  • Islamic State forces are completely surrounded in Raqqa, as coalition aircraft pound militant positions in the capital of the crumbling caliphate and the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to grind them down in street-to-street urban warfare. Here’s the livemap snapshot:

  • There are consistent but unconfirmed reports from a number of sources that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. As in past cases of jihadis reported dead long before they actually reached room temperature, a large dollop of caution is in order. Though this quote from a coalition spokesman (relayed via Stephen Green at Instapundit) is pretty glorious: “We strongly advise ISIS to implement a strong line of succession, it will be needed.”
  • Given the investment of Raqqa, there are conflicting reports as to where the Islamic State’s defacto capital is now: Some say Deir ez-Zor, others say Al Mayadin, AKA Mayadeen, which is all of 44km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, both in Syria on the Euphrates near what used to be the Iraqi border.

  • How President Trump’s strategy against the Islamic State differs from Obama’s:

    Under President Obama, U.S. Army Special Forces assigned to Syrian Democratic Forces needed special approval from Washington for virtually all tactical moves amid the politically complex theater of Americans, Arabs, Kurds, Turks and Syrians.

    In Tabqa, where the city, its dam and its airfield were the objectives, the Green Berets decided they needed an airlift. Suddenly minus red tape, Arabs, Kurds and Americans were helicoptering into battle, and they quickly seized territory.

    Under Mr. Obama, Islamic State terrorists could at times retreat from towns, immune from airstrikes if they used civilians as cover. The battle for Manbij in August became infamous when the SDF let 200 Islamic State fighters turn in their weapons and escape because they had threatened to kill town residents if they were not allowed to run away.

    The new Trump strategy calls for surrounding towns, as opposed to pushing from one end or one side to another, in order to isolate Islamic State fighters and annihilate them.

    Brett H. McGurk, special U.S. envoy to the coalition against the Islamic State who performed the same role for Mr. Obama, talked of “the delegations of authority which has made a difference in terms of the speed of execution. I think Tabqa was an example of that.”

    “Our military people on the ground saw an opportunity to kind of surprise ISIS with a helicopter, moving them by helicopter, surprise them from behind and seize the airport, the dam and the town,” Mr. McGurk later told reporters at the Pentagon.

    After Tabqa’s liberation, Mr. McGurk spoke to the city’s mayor, who gave a brief description of the war of annihilation.

    “He also said he believes that most of these foreign fighters are now dead,” the diplomat said.

    Mr. Mattis said: “No longer will we have slowed decision cycles because Washington, D.C., has to authorize tactical movements. I’ll leave that to the generals who know how to do those kind of things. We don’t direct that from here. They know our intent is the foreign fighters do not get out. I leave it to their skill, their cunning, to carry that out.”

  • Some videos:

    House-by-house clearing in Raqqa:

    The ruins of the Al Nuri Mosque in Mosul, from which al-Baghdadi declared his short-lived caliphate:

  • The Islamic State is by no means destroyed, but they’re definitely on the ropes. The defeat of the Islamic State won’t end transnational Islamic fundamentalism, but it will certainly take the wind out of their sails.

    Not included in this roundup: Groups outside Islamic State territory that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. I hope to have a separate roundup on them Real Soon Now.

    Note: Post updated to remove embedded video on improvised weapons of the Battle for Mosul, as it’s been taken down for “violating YouTube’s Terms of Service,” possibly because it included Islamic State propaganda videos of weapon-making among the footage.