The Islamic State ‘will get smacked’

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 10 Oktober 2014 | 20.02

The Kurdish city of Kobani, Syria is under siege. It's of considerable strategic value to the Islamic State militants attacking it, the Kurds defending it, and the Turks across the border. Photo: AP

Major General Craig Orme ... the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force in the Middle East. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

ISLAMIC state terrorists have run an effective psychological campaign but they have no magical powers and will be destroyed, says the man leading Australia's Joint Task Force operations in the Middle East.

Major General Craig Orme said ISIL had made a serious mistake in trying to behave like a conventional army as it swept from Syria into Iraq because it did not have the organisational ability to support its fighters.

"As ISIL have tried to start acting like a state force, they play onto our ground and our expertise and they will get smacked," says Major General Orme.

"They are about to be defeated."

Major General Orme's message back to Australia from his operational headquarters in the United Arab Emirates is that people should not be suckered into believing that ISIL has changed the world for the worst forever.

"ISIL have a weak military capability," he says.

"They become highly targetable when they try to behave like a conventional force. They are not magic.

"They have to refuel, rearm, they need to secure their lines of comms (communications between their HQ and fighters), they need to supply themselves and hold their ground."

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Serious mistake ... the Commander of the Australian Joint Task Force in the Middle East, Major General Craig Orme says ISIS will pay. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

Major General Orme says the Coalition is supremely better and maintaining connection to Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerger ground forces than ISIL is at supplying its own fighters.

"These are problems all military forces face. They've had catastrophic success but as they move to the end of their lines of comms, they are highly targetable.

"The areas in northern Iraq are a long way from their source of strength in Syria. They're vulnerable.

"As soon as they behave like a conventional force, they're on our ground. Up till now they've used shock action and terror to achieve their effect. If they're sitting in one spot, we'll go and bomb them and we're happy to do that.

"We have the intel surveillance and the reconnaissance. We will use that."

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Major General Orme said people needed to set aside the notion that the Coalition was dealing with an unstoppable military force.

"We're putting together a Coalition that will look at their funding and their theological legitimacy. The Gulf States are all attacking the legitimacy of the caliphate as a notion, and (ISIL leader) al-Baghdadi's position as a Caliph.

"It's not just bombs but a comprehensive effect. These guys have nothing to offer."

War games ... Australian Defence Force personal are preparing for war. Newly arrived ADF members go through their paces at a rifle range at a undisclosed location. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

Major General Orme said the air strikes in Iraq were having an effect, but they needed to be followed up with decisive ground actions by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

One of the main tasks of Australia's 200 Special Forces — once they get final sign off to enter Iraq — was to stiffen the resolve of the Iraqi Security Force with expert help in battle.

He said the Iraqis and the people of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in the north people would never gradually come to accept ISIL as a legitimate government, even if they held towns such as Mosul for some time to come.

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And nor could ISIL endlessly rely on intimidation and fear to force locals to support them with food and shelter.

"They can only melt back into the population if the population supports them," said the Major General.

"I have every confidence we can defeat ISIL over time. They will go back to be a terrorist organisation, but it is less damaging than holding large parts of country."

Target practice ... RAAF Flying Officer Stepanie Lambkin, 23, from NSW, at a range in the Middle East. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

Defence is yet to give full clarity on what targets have been hit from the air — or avoided, in order to minimise civilian casualties.

The 2nd Commando Regiment will lead the Special Forces into Iraq once they get legal clearance from the Australian command, which requires a Status of Forces agreement to protect them from Iraqi prosecution as they conduct combat assistance.

The Special Forces will have multiple roles, all of which will be done in concert with the Iraqi military. That could include calling in strikes on targets they have identified and very likely — in the first instance — helping protect Baghdad from ISIL.

Baghdad is particularly vulnerable on its western front where ISIL has been massing, and national morale demands the sovereign capital be protected and that the terror group is repelled from its ramparts.

Preapring for war ... Australian Defence Force personal in the Middle East. Picture: Gary Ramage Source: News Corp Australia

Within Baghdad, one of the problems the Special Forces face will be improvised explosive devices not just from ISIL but the ever-present anti-Coalition elements, which includes from Iranian operatives who are playing a secret role in the conflict.

Iran and Iraq have a history of war but both governments are Shia at their heart and have a shared interest in destroying ISIL, which fights under a distorted version of the Sunni belief system.

The Iranians have had a strong clandestine and open political influence in Baghdad, and want to rid the capital of every Sunni threat — and every Coalition member.

American forces have now added Apache helicopters to the fight against ISIS forces in Iraq. The Apaches offer more precise targeting, but are vulnerable to ground artillery.

The first task of the Special Forces will be to engage with the Iraqi military and listen. They want to understand their limitations and frustrations and to help solve their problems.

That could be quick on-the-spot training on how to protect each other from friendly fire in heavy combat, or to fight with them at battlefronts and show them they can call in instant air strikes on the enemy.

They hope to gain their trust — and give them courage and steadfastness — by using Coalition intelligence to take out targets quickly and effectively.

It also means demonstrating that when the Special Forces give them a commitment, they will see it through.

Whether helping the Iraqis or the Kurdish peshmerger, they are dealing with forces that are shambolic and need to see some decisive victories to fortify their tenacity.

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