Video Analysis: ISIS vs. Peshmerga: Combat Reality

The video below was originally posted on the MVT FORUM HERE. It’s easy to see this all as some sort of dark comedy, and get a laugh, but I think that in this case, the video is a gem and a good find. There are many comments, including those embedded in the VICE video, very critical of the IS fighters and their conduct. I take a different view. I say: welcome to the chaos of combat!

For untrained Americans, why do you think you would do any better? Change the language of the video and you could have Billy Bob chastising Cletus for nearly blowing his head off with the RPG back blast….

Edit: I got an email reference the above statement, upset that I was equating ISIS with Americans. That really wasn’t the fucking point. The point is that untrained is untrained, whatever the language. I.e. you may think its comical to see ISIS dying in disarray, but if you are an untrained cluster, it won’t be comical when you die in a similar fashion. But, who else feels that way? If it’s out of line, if I touched a nerve, I’ll take it out. I do hope, however, that the point is seen.

It is however a good example for the following post: ‘Gunfight Safety: How to not kill your Team/Family Members.

Looking deeper into the video, there appear to be a number of good lessons that can be drawn. The headcam guy appears to be in the rear vehicle of a four vehicle assault group. All the vehicles appear to be ‘hillbilly armored.’ The fact that they have done this is interesting in itself – they are not attempting to attack dug in positions with unarmored Toyota Hilux. These GoPro cameras are always a problem in terms of showing things at distance and making everything seem so far away – it is hard to get an idea of context. However, the ISIS vehicles appear to be in the open and moving towards a Peshmerga strongpoint. There are low hills to the right and at one point in the video the head cam guy is engaging a small hill to the front of the vehicle, which is probably a Pesh strongpoint., So it’s likely that ISIS are having to attack across open ground against defended positions in the low hills.

So it may be an attack against dug in enemy, using up-armored vehicles, across open ground, unsupported, which means there appears to be no support from indirect or direct fire for this mission. At one point the vehicles appear to the stopped (before they are hit), so perhaps the idea is to get within range with RPGs and try and reduce the strongpoint that way? Ultimately, it’s not an effective act of war against the Pesh strongpoints. They don’t have enough support or assault troops included with the mission to try and break in and overwhelm the Pesh positions. So these guys are being thrown away.

Here is the video, with some commentary afterwards:

1:30: action starts with the attack.

1:50: you see the vehicles moving in convoy, our guy in the rear one. It looks like there are only two vehicles ahead, but later you see that the front vehicle is closely followed by another – it almost looks like it is being towed.

2:00: the vehicle ahead of them is destroyed by an anti-armor missile coming in from the ridge to the right. It almost looks like a wire guided anti-armor missile like a MILAN. Who is supplying and advising the Pesh on their anti-armor tactics? Props to them. One minute Mr. ISIS is driving along, next he’s gone. Welcome to war. You can actually see a flash off to the right, from the ridge and a dark spot that may be the Pesh firing point, just after the missile impacts.

2:05: we are into the chaos of the assault. Abu Hajaar appears to be the ‘Carl’ of ISIS.

2:30: ISIS vehicles assaulting among what look like RPG or mortar misses. If that was a ATGWS (i.e MILAN/TOW or similar) on the ridge, why are these vehicles still moving?

3:00: are they stopped, attacking with RPGs?

3:24: He looks back to see the vehicle burning behind them. At this point they have at least one other vehicle still fighting with them, to their right. Hear the zips of the small arms passing by?

4:10: As he fires the rifle grenade, you see the strongpoint close to their front.

4:41: their vehicle is hit, driver killed. RPG from the strongpoint or ATGWS from the ridge? They have to dismount from the vehicle into a totally open flat field, under small arms fire from the Pesh strongpoint.

5:20: the crew tries to break contact and withdraw. There is no organization. Rounds are zipping past. Camera guy is taking a knee, and as a result he is hit. The others who are prone or rolling do not appear to be hit. But with that far to go back to their lines, in the open, it’s only a matter of time. They are stranded.

5:45: one of the crew decides “fuck it” and runs forward firing, going for max paradise points.

6:12: ENDEX. Apparently he doesn’t make it out. Most likely, none of them did.