Of course the Department of Defense claimed this is “with American help.” A handful of smart missiles hit targets, but the big help was the old M198 155mm field guns.
The contested area was the southwest section of the city. The Iraqi-Iranian battle plan formed up a couple weeks ago as a standard Surround-and-Annihilate system. Militias were coordinated to make sure Shia/Shi'ia and Sunni members were together during advances. This approach had avoided problems at Amerli and Jurf al-Sakhar and it worked perfectly at Tikrit.
In the main Tikrit was not so much a full scale battle as a preparation for Mosul.
Back in October 2014 the battle at Jurf al-Sakhar had three times as many ISIS fighters inside the siege line. JaS also saw an ISIS force that had a fairly large store of mortar rounds.
Tikrit was a mop up action. Doing the work slowly and efficiently showed a level of patience that you would probably not see if Americans were running the show. Compare/contrast for efficiency: this battle at Tikrit (or the Jurf al-Sakhar action) with the six day battle at Fallujah where US Marines and Army forced control with head-to-head combat.
Same time, two deaths (of three total casualties that day) came from a foreign air strike. American or French? Nobody is 'fessing up.
ISIS did not have night vision equipment, so cleaning out their light infantry combined artillery with night ops. Here's one of the M198s:
A week ago half the coalition force took off, headed north. Not clear where they were going. Cutting off ISIS units sounded right: either Tal Afar or the area east of Baiji in the Little Zeb River area.
Counterattack on ISIS in Iraq is perfect for wargaming. Traditional sand box work. And amateurs can get things right, odds on, because the only real player on the ground is General Suleimani. The others can move things around, but he has proved that he knows how to trash ISIS starting in Syria and moving steadily through Iraq.
Skills to run a siege are rare. Using artillery effectively, particularly, has to be prepared years ahead of hostilities. Suleimani is fully competent — not a half-twit like Petraeus. (Famous for writing the COIN manual and allowing AQI to escape “The Surge” in 2007/2008.)
American air strikes? The French? O.K., useful.
Good to see casualties down low. At Tikrit this was extraordinarily low. Combined with getting to bury lots of ISIS and Friends, that's a morale builder that will continue on to fuel anti-Salafi military actions for years.
Screw the Saudis and all of their barbar9ian/terrorist/blood sucking proxies. In Iraq the Saudis will be remembered for ever as the toads who pay psychos to use Down Syndrome females to carry “suicide” bombs that they detonate remotely.
This second Battle of Tikrit went off as a mirror image to the strategy of the Jurf al-Sakhar action. ISIS ain't worth a shekel at defense. The first battle last July killed most of the ISIS attack group but could not prevent 200 survivors from melting into Sunni neighborhoods, mostly in the southwest corner of the city.
The big difference from Jurf al-Sakhar was that this time the coalition brought along enormous stores of field artillery ammunition. Estimates have 8,000 to 12,000 rounds fired by the end of last week.
ISIS ??? Good for terrorizing civilians. Good where an opponent's generals can be bought off. That was Iraq in 2014. Otherwise, ISIS and its international bands of crazies are not that hard to beat. Not where a competent general can arrange his troops for the task, plus having solid logistics support.
Mosul is on the agenda. It is already 90% surrounded. The one escape route goes west through Tal Afar. Civilians have left ASAP. “A City on Death Row” was the al-Jazeera phrase back in January.
AJ also opines that the Shi'ia forces could massacre Sunnis after retaking Mosul. There's been none of that with any army led by General Suleimani. They don't take prisoners, not for long. (Kurds do take prisoners.) But this is ISIS we're talking about. Psychopaths from all over, come to Syria and Iraq to kill heretics.
On to Mosul. Likely after annihilating the outlying ISIS groups at Tal Afar and to the south from Mosul where the Kurds are happy warriors.
Pick a date for the fall of Mosul. I'll take July 4th.
Then the big question: after Mosul will the coalition roll into Syria ??? You know the Kurds are up for it. Quds Force is up for it. How long until Raqqa falls — pick a date for that if you're rocking a crystal ball.