Here’s your Situation Update for March 6, 2018


Department of Defense photo

Welcome to your Situation Update, a regular feature from Insurgentsia that covers irregular war and runs weekday mornings. The scope of these posts will cover small wars, but it’s not the size of the small in the war, it’s the size of the war in the small.

The weather forecast this morning is warm with a 60% chance of staying up at night wondering why you did the things you did years ago. I hope that helps you wherever you are located as you read this.

The military probe into the ambush in Niger that killed four American soldiers found that the team didn’t get proper approval to conduct its mission to search for an Islamic State leader. It was originally reported that the team’s mission was diverted after doing a routine patrol. The New York Times reported last month they were not properly outfitted for a more dangerous mission and communication at higher level of command broke down. The military probe blames the “team,” but it is not clear what level of command that refers to. It was reported in the Times that this Special Forces team was led by Capt. Michael Perozini, who was injured in the ambush.

An aid convoy finally reached eastern Ghouta, the besieged suburb of Damascus where rebels and civilians alike are targeted by Syrian government air strikes. The convoy from the United Nations, International Red Cross, and Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered many supplies before it ever reached the town. It planned to stay overnight, but left after eight hours amid bombings with some trucks still full.

Calls for peace talks with the Taliban continue in Afghanistan especially by one former insurgent group leader who has been brought into the political process. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, leader of Hezb-i-Islami, made peace with the Afghan government last year. Hezb-i-Islami fought U.S. and Afghan troops alike, but is now a legitimate political party. Similar situations have occurred with insurgents groups. In Lebanon, Hezbollah also successfully made the transition from armed insurgent group to legitimate political party. Hekmatyar thinks the model for his reconciliation can be used to bring the Taliban into Afghan politics and end the war.

Iraq is executing foreign women accused of supporting Islamic State but France is pushing for extradition so these women receive “fair trials” and do not face the death penalty.

Maybe dozens of Russian civilians weren’t killed in Syria after all, reports Der Spiegel. Der Spiegel claims only nine Russian contractor deaths can be confirmed and the narrative of hundreds killed was pushed originally by Russian Nationalists and reported by Western media without proper fact checking.

If you are located in the Oklahoma City area, I’ll be co-hosting a monthly Scotch & Strategy meetup sponsored by The Strategy Bridge this Thursday at 6pm in Norman. Our guest speaker will be Dr. Xiaobing Li who will talk about his upcoming book on the Battle of the Chosin Resevoir from a Chinese perspective. If you’d like to know more or get onto our email invite list, send me a direct message on Twitter.


This concludes your Situation Update. Questions may be posted in the comments section. You don’t have to ask questions, though. You can do whatever you want. Don’t make yourself unhappy. To receive these in your inbox daily, use the follow button on the sidebar (web) or below (mobile).

Here’s your Situation Update for February 19th, 2018

M777 A2 Howitzer fire mission

Department of Defense photo

Welcome to your Situation Update, a feature from Insurgentsia that runs weekday mornings (except when it doesn’t, like last Friday). The scope of these posts will cover small wars, full hearts, can’t lose.

The weather forecast this morning is unseasonably warm with a 60% chance of media-induced cognitive dissonance. I hope that helps you wherever you are located as you read this.

“A front against Israel where there is no war but also no peace,” writes the New York Times in a piece about the Iranian presence in Syria. While Iran deployed its own military and facilitated the organization of foreign militias to fight for Assad in the Syrian Civil War, Western think tanks see the potential for a permanent presence to counter Israel in the region, similar to the model it used with Hezbollah in Lebanon. Such a model has sparked multiple Israeli invasions of Lebanon. Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a speech brandishing a piece of an Iranian drone, threatening war.

A gunman attacked a church in Russia and Islamic State claimed responsibility. Countering violent extremism has become a discipline of study and an industry of its own, but this quote highlights why it is important to learn the basics: “Churchgoers said they had prevented more casualties by closing the door to the church and stopping the attacker from getting inside.”

Four U.S. soldiers died in Niger in October and the New York Times wrote a staggering account of their last moments with a visual aid detailing their last steps. It’s heartbreaking.

In Kabul, suicide attacks occur monthly. Street cleaners have to deal with the aftermath. “We found hands, feet — even a head. I couldn’t eat for the next two days. I was horrified,” says one.

Damascus suburb endures death and misery as it has for years and will continue to as long as outside powers decide to continue the war in Syria. Regional powers focus on more strategically important places while residents wonder what their children will eat and if there will be a tomorrow.

Three Iranian police were killed in Tehran in protests by Sufi Muslims against the government. A bus drove into a formation of Iranian riot police. The protests were in support of jailed Sufi leaders.

Turkey adds the Syrian government to its list of potential enemies having already threatened the United States in its campaign against the Kurdish YPG in northern Syria. Turkey threatening the Assad regime would have been good news to the U.S. and rebel forces in 2012, but today it just adds another violent dimension to a brutal conflict that shows no signs of ending.

This concludes your Situation Update. Questions may be posted in the comments section, but answers are having a great, but very reflective, President’s Day. To receive these in your inbox daily, use the follow button on the sidebar (web) or below (mobile). Your next Situation Update will be Tuesday, February 20th, 2018.