Tactics of the Islamic State

In a post on the situation in Iraq today, Pat Lang has suggested that “This has Guderian, Patton, Manstein, et al., written all over it.”

True. Boyd did a nice summary of these tactics:

Message: By exploiting superior leadership, intelligence, communications, and mobility as well as by playing upon adversary’s fears and doubts via propaganda and terror, forces of The Islamic State operated inside adversary observation-orientation-decision-action loops.

Result: Outnumbered IS fighters created impressions of terrifying strength—by seeming to come out of nowhere yet be everywhere.

Hence: Subversive propaganda, clever stratagems, fast breaking maneuvers, and calculated terror not only created vulnerabilities and weaknesses but also played upon moral factors that drain away resolve, produce panic, and bring about collapse.  Patterns of Conflict, chart 28.

OK, I did make a few insignificant changes to bring it up to date.

8 thoughts on “Tactics of the Islamic State

  1. Petedlee,

    Thanks. Mark raises some interesting points, particularly bringing up the idea of moral conflict. Suggest our readers go check it out.

  2. They are also using the methodologies of organized criminality.


    They do have an actute vulnerability from very nature of the wide open, terrain
    desert environment, from air attack. They are much safer in urban environments
    and as shown recently elswhere, with the availability of civilian human shields.

    This will never be satisfactorily resolved unless the west can get the sunni,
    and shites reconciled and sharing authority.

    A mighty tall order. If not absolutely IMPOSSIBLE.

    A physical partition of the country into at least 3 separate entities
    seems more likely.

    This will raise further issues with the “control freaks” in Washington.

    Finally as likely US or similar western allied hapless and beleaguered tax payers,
    and seeing your standard of living tank, Be reminded also of this;


    Good night, and good luck,,,

  3. It’s interesting to contrast the US from the ISIS.

    Although even in the Islamic world, ISIS’ tactics have been controversial, they have not lost the moral narrative among their core supporters. This has been helped in no small part by the level of corruption in the Iraqi government.

    The US by contrast, lost it the minute the began invading Iraq under the pretext that Suddam had WMDs. It’s only gotten worse since then.

    I would argue even before that in Afghanistan, it was losing slowly. The mistakes of the Soviet Invasion of that nation, of Vietnam, and of other previous wars has been repeated, if not magnified substantially.

    — Chris

  4. “This has been helped in no small part by the level of corruption in the Iraqi government.”

    Are you surprised Chris ?
    Analise the USA/CIA track record throughout the years, in backing the wrong horse
    every time; Here are but a few, but the list is endless;

    3 successive Corrupt and inept regimes in S. Vietnam.
    Pinochet, Of Chile
    Shau of Iran
    Marcos of the Philippines
    Mubarack in Egypt,,
    Etc, etc, etc,,

    You get the picture ?
    it always, and usualy sooner rather than later, blows up (literally) in our faces.

    The moral is,. and apparently, we just don’t get it !
    “the enemy, of your enemy, is NOT necessarily your friend”
    Or, the best choice, to promote and leave in charge,,,

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