It was a hot day just before Christmas in 1990. I was travelling through Sydney in a taxi and the cabbie was listening intently to ABC news radio which was covering the build-up of tension between Iraq and the rest of the world.
Saddam Hussein’s armed forces had invaded Kuwait some months earlier, and was now threatening the mother of all wars should the US led coalition of 30 countries, which now numbered 40,000 and was building up in Saudi Arabia, attempt to remove his army by force.
When the news item ended, the cabbie volunteered that he was confused because there were so many contradictory versions of events in the Middle East. He just wanted to know, with some degree of certainty what was going to happen if the coalition went to war and that he wished there was just one news service that would ‘tell us like it really is’.
I sat there, resisting the very strong temptation to discuss his desire for a single source of news, and instead knowing that knowledge dispels fear, decided to oblige him.
“The war will be short, it will be brutal and we will win”.
He asked how I knew and how could I be so certain, so I gave him the short answer. I was an Army officer and that it was ‘what we do for a living’. I said that he was no different in that he could reasonably assess the time needed to travel between the airport and the city, taking into consideration variables such as traffic and motor vehicle accidents, because it was what he did for a living. Having had his need for knowledge met, he did appear less fearful but no happier, as is often the case.
Knowledge Dispels Fear is the motto of the Australian Defence Force’s Parachute Training School located at Naval Air Station – Nowra, on the NSW coast south of Sydney. That’s where I learnt it.
Knowledge dispels fear but it does not bring happiness. I also learned that at the Parachute Training School and you’d be surprised at the number of Special Forces soldiers who are not happy about jumping out of a plane.
I have been reminded of this motto many times since the Paris attacks, specifically whenever I have heard the leaders of western nations telling their populations not to be fearful and to go about their everyday lives, otherwise the terrorists win.
Sounds nice but the exhortations from politicians, a group not noted for their honesty nor trustworthiness, are falling on deaf ears and for good reason. The paucity of knowledge on the part of the people is prodigious. Our largely incompetent leaders are allowing the enemy, in this case ISIL, unfettered access to inform the media narrative. We are warned not to overreact lest we fuel ISIL yet it is exactly this absence of an effective counter message from western governments that is providing aid and comfort to the enemy and those who would support them.
So, given that our own Prime Minister is also Absent Without Leave on this issue, I will now outline a possible plan to the military problem of ISIL. Please note it is a possible ground war plan only, much simplified and built on many assumptions, but it is a workable solution to the removal of ISIL from the Levant. This is a necessary precursor to the rebuilding of Syria and Iraq, and the halting of the humanitarian crisis. My purpose is to dispel fear by providing the knowledge that ISIL is not an invincible behemoth which our leaders seem to believe it is, but rather just another adversary that will be defeated on the battlefield.
The plan follows the ancient approach of setting the anvil and swinging the hammers, and is as follows:
Mission Secure boundaries
Mission – Secure Syria
Mission – Secure Northern Iraq
Mission – Secure Western Iraq
See the maps below for further information.
Note: An international accord will be required prior to commencement of military operations and a possible solution will be discussed in a following article.