Don’t Call It An Insurgency: Only ‘Disparate Cellular Structures’ Of ISIS Remain In Iraq, DoD Says

news
Associated Press photo

Nearly 15 years after the U.S. military toppled Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the U.S. government is replaying its post-invasion script that only a few isolated groups of fighters remain in Iraq. After two suicide bombers killed more than 30 people in Baghdad on Jan. 15, a U.S. commander in Iraq said it is too early to determine whether ISIS has morphed into an insurgency.


“There are still remnants of ISIS, who reside in a cellular structure, who seek to bring instability to local areas, in particular population centers,” Marine Brig. Gen. James Glynn, head of coalition special operations forces in Iraq, said during a Pentagon news briefing on Tuesday. “There’s no indicator of any coordination. It’s merely a matter of disparate, cellular structures trying to have some legitimacy, some recognition.”

What’s left of ISIS in Iraq is trying to be “disruptive” is U.S.-based security efforts thereby launching attacks such as the double suicide bombing in Baghdad, Glynn said. Iraqi security forces are taking a close look at areas such as Hawijah and Tuz Khurmatu in case they need to be re-cleared of ISIS cells.

If it sounds like you’ve seen this movie before, that’s because Glynn’s comments were essentially the same press briefing that Pentagon officials have delivered since the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003, when former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld initially refused to acknowledge that the power vacuum that followed from the U.S.-led invasion begat the Sunni insurgency.

“There's no question but that in those regions where pockets of dead-enders are trying to reconstitute, General Franks and his team are rooting them out,” Rumsfeld said in June 2003.

Rumsfeld was sorely mistaken. Paul Bremer, the U.S. civilian administrator of Iraq in 2003 and 2004, made a series of blunders that nearly doomed the war from the outset, such as disbanding the Iraqi army and taking power away from Sunni sheikhs in Anbar province. When U.S. troops swept up military-aged Iraqi males in raids, they inadvertently turned prisons into networking opportunities for future militants.

But even after Iraq took its initial nosedive into hell, Rumsfeld insisted in November 2005 that “insurgency” was the wrong word to describe Al Qaeda in Iraq, then led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Rumsfeld argued that it is impossible for an insurgency to be legitimate in a country with a cohesive, popularly supported government, such as Iraq. He also said al Qaeda’s only goal was to promote disorder, so it did not meet the dictionary definition of an insurgency.

“I've thought about it, and over the weekend, I thought to myself: ‘You know, that gives them a greater legitimacy than they seem to merit,’” Rumsfeld said at Pentagon news conference. “Why do you – why would you call Zarqawi and his people insurgents against a legitimate Iraqi government with their own constitution? It just – do they have broad popular support in that country? No”

After a string of defeats for ISIS, the U.S. is once again declaring that the enemy has no legitimacy with Iraqis simply because the group no longer controls Mosul, formerly Iraq’s third largest city, or any swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.“The so-called caliphate has been dismantled, at this point, and so ISIS has no recognizable structure of the bureaucracy that they had previously sought to achieve,” Glynn said on Tuesday.

Iraqi counterterrorism forces are keeping the pressure on isolated ISIS cells to prevent them from combining to form an insurgency and to “give them no alternatives but to be captured or killed,” he said.

While ISIS has been badly mauled in Iraq, the group’s future is unclear. Right now, ISIS in Iraq only has one or two cells that can launch operations, so it is too early to tell if the movement has political mass, according to Daniel Masters, who teaches international relations at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.

Although the terrorist group is too fragmented to present a unified threat, sectarian divisions between Sunnis and Shiites could help ISIS gain momentum. Masters told Task & Purpose that while insurgencies and terrorist groups are also rarely defeated by external forces, ISIS was formed by the remnants of its predecessor, al Qaeda in Iraq, which was defeated by the Sunni “Awakening” movement.

“To think that ISIS could morph into something else is not beyond the realm of imagination,” Masters said. “We do know that when violent organizations collapse they tend to move through stages of an ‘extinction burst’ meaning they begin to act erratically and in potentially more violent ways.

“I would think that concerns over the now defeated ISIS stem from this point of thinking," he added. "The history of AQI’s [al Qaeda in Iraq’s] resurrection into ISIS is very salient.”

WATCH NEXT:

Casperassets.rbl.ms

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less