Leadership Changes — CEO Shoptalk

Leadership changes can effect policy which can alter outcomes. Leadership changes are critical to outcomes.

Big Red Car here on a glorious Texas, Austin By God Texas, day. Ahh, on Earth as it is in Texas!

One of the easiest ways to change outcomes is to change leadership. I say this in the context of business leadership (startups, in particular), but the example I will use has to do with the Middle East and ISIS. Hello, America!

If you have been following the unending war in Iraq and Syria, you will note several interesting things.

ISIS is kaput and it is only a matter of time before its leadership is dead, and its footprints disappear.

Let’s explore how this happened.

ISIS — from whence?

ISIS was an offshoot of the failed SOFA (status of forces agreement) negotiations which made the US presence in Iraq disappear. It was a huge policy failure and in its vacuum, ISIS came to life.

[Note: The US has SOFAs with every country in which it stations troops. One may argue that Germany has not started any wars recently (since 1939) because the US and its allies have occupied it under a SOFA. We have similar arrangements with Korea, Japan, and lots of other countries. The failure to obtain one in Iraq was a monumental cockup.]

We were blindsided by our opposition to Assad in Syria. It was the right policy to oppose Assad, but we armed rebels who turned out to also be former Al Qaeda and, then, morphed into ISIS. [The accusations that the US created ISIS are based on this dopey alchemy.]

The Caliphate and the Caliph

ISIS anointed itself as a caliphate, the multi-ethnic, trans-national empire of Islam. Its leader, the Caliph, is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Meet Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Caliph of ISIS. One of the biggest assholes and evil men in the history of the world.

Take note of the “al-Baghdadi” geographical claim. ISIS intended to occupy, physically, a crescent from the Med to Iran with a huge swath of Syria and Iraq in the borders. He was going to conquer Iraq and be headquartered in Baghdad.

ISIS initial success

The Caliph and ISIS enjoyed immediate success. How this handful of dirtbags were able to rout a 900,000 man US-trained, well-equipped Iraqi army is one of the mysteries of the world. In any event, they began to capture cities which had been freed from Saddam Hussein’s brutality with American blood, treasure, and lives.

The Iraqi army ran like cowards and left their weapons behind.

ISIS funded itself through the illegal sale of crude oil and refined products. It was on a sounder financial footing than the deficit ridden United States.

On the heels of this initial success, the Obama administration began to bring the situation into focus.

ISIS garnered even more attention with the export of its terrorism throughout the world.

Leadership changes, President Trump

Donald J Trump ran on a platform of “bombing the shit out of ISIS.” He won.

Like a dog who caught a pickup, he was left with the big question — “OK, what do we do now?”

He made several important policy decisions. When you make leadership changes, policy follows in the same vein.

Policy decisions, Big Red Car? Tell me.

As our new leader, here are some of the policy changes President Trump made:

 1. He appointed salty, seasoned warriors to oversee the war — Marine Corps General Mad Dog Mattis, Army Lieutenant General NSA Henry McMaster, and then DHS head, Marine Corps General Kelly.

No more focus on social engineering in the military petri dish. A new focus on lethality and dealing with ISIS.

Change the leadership, change the outcomes — throughout the organization.

 2. The Pentagon changed the rules of engagement (ROE). President Trump asked his new leaders to evaluate the Obama admin’s ROE and they made some recommendations. President Trump accepted them.

 3. The US began to add heavy artillery (same approach as they took with the Northern Alliance v the Taliban in Afghanistan in the beginning of that war), Special Operators for training and leadership, and fulfilled the campaign promise of “bombing the shit out of ISIS.”

American sorties were magnified by a 10X factor and no planes returned with their bombs because they had primary, secondary, tertiary targets.

 4. US policy began to focus on doubling down on those who could fight and win — the Kurdish Peshmerga, as an example. Winners received priority of support and supply.

 5. The US urged our allies to go after cities and wrest them from ISIS even when the fighting was bloody.

The US made a ring of steel around each of these beleaguered cities and made ISIS starve — for men, medical treatment, food, water, ammunition, and communications.

What happened then, Big Red Car?

Watching an army being defeated has several obvious symptoms. ISIS began to show the signs of a defeated army.

 1. ISIS began to lose battles on the battlefield and were defeated through superior combined arms — infantry, artillery, armor, air power. The friendlies began to fight a more complex and deadly form of combat.

 2. The enhanced and magnified bombing began to take a toll on communications, the movement of supplies, the safety of the ISIS leadership, the evacuation of wounded and KIAs, and the ability to convert oil into cash.

The bombing turned off the flow of cash to ISIS while destroying refineries, pipelines, trucks, bridges essential to movement, and roads. Anything moving died.

 3. ISIS struggled to make up manpower losses. The recruiting triumph of ISIS was always baloney, but it became virtually impossible to obtain, transport, train, and deploy replacements.

When you begin to make pyramids of your enemies’ heads, recruitment will suffer.

When you take out their Intenet/social media center, the WWW stops quivering with your messages. You look like a loser.

 4. ISIS could not take care of their wounded. It takes more people to care for a wounded soldier than to feed a live one.

ISIS could not get their wounded from the battlefield and into hospitals. They could not obtain critical medical supplies. This drove the morale of the field organizations into the ground.

 5. ISIS could not supply their fighters with replacement leaders, food, water, medical supplies, and ammunition. The units began to lose cohesion and were no longer combat effective.

 6. Graves registration broke down and the victors found themselves burying ISIS dead using dozers to dig large holes and push bodies into them before covering them up.

 7. Large numbers of ISIS fighters surrendered en masse. This is important because when 1-2,000 fighters surrender this means the leadership has capitulated, given up.

When the unit leaders give up, the followers follow their leaders.

 8. ISIS has lost the high ground on the battlefield of social media.

We finally knocked out their favorite Internet cafes and drove them off the web.

 9. The ISIS leadership has fled to the Euphrates River valley and is awaiting their own demise.

There is no caliphate. There is no glorious conquering of the Middle East. The caliph is MIA and the allies are about to call it a day when they kill al-Baghdadi.

 10. ISIS has lost its nominal capital in Raqqa. When you lose your capital, it is a very bad thing in reality and symbolically.

There is more work to be done, but the outcome is now pre-ordained. ISIS is done.

What next?

Here’s what will happen next.

 1. Al-Baghdadi will get nabbed like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.

If he is lucky, he will be killed. The propaganda value of holding a trial would be enormous.

 2. ISIS will attempt to metastasize and infect the rest of the world. This is well underway.

It will slowly peter out as governments hunt them down and kill them. We have passed the highwater mark.

 3. Iran’s influence in the Middle East will be enormous. They will control Iran, influence Iraq, and operate in Syria with impunity.

Iran will be the new problem for the US and Israel. The mischief will really start when Iran has a toehold on the Syrian-Israeli border to go with their support of Hamas and Hezbollah.

This is where the next war starts in the Middle East.

 4. Syria, Bashar al-Assad, will not change much. He is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Russians and Iran. Putin loves the ability to use Syria as a wedge issue with the US. Loves it.

 5. The Kurds will get some small autonomy, but still be hunted by Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. They deserve their own nation, but the world will not rise to the opportunity. The Kurds get screwed again.

 6. In two years, there will be another crop of shitheads who are encouraged to come forward. With the ISIS experience under our belt, we need to throttle them in their crib.

So, back to the point. When you change leadership, you change policy. When you change policies, you change outcomes.

But, hey, what the Hell do I know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Be good to yourself.


6 thoughts on “Leadership Changes — CEO Shoptalk

  1. ISIS? Trump decided to listen to Mattis and actually fight the battle to win. Trump and Mattis won. I’m sure Mattis knew right away how to win. E.g., where was the ISIS air force to compete with the US? Right, they had none. Generally, especially in a desert war, if can win the air, then relatively easily can win the war. Over ISIS, we won the air by default; ISIS had no air force. So, Mattis directed a fast win. For more, Mattis put some good US leadership over the Iraqi soldiers. That was about the first good leadership they’d ever had. Right, before Gulf War I, some of the Iraqi officers had had some training in the US, but, still, net, in Gulf War I the Iraqis had bad military leadership.

    Obama didn’t want to defeat ISIS, really was on the side of ISIS.

    For Gulf War II, W said “The Iraqi people are perfectly capable of governing themselves.” Dumb de dumb dumb, dumb. “Wide of the mark.” As in W’s recent speech, he still totally fails to “get it”.

    Akrapistan? Stands to be another Trump, Mattis victory. E.g., Tillerson just claimed that some of the Taliban are getting tired of the war. No shiite, Holy Batman, but not nearly as “tired” as they will be if they don’t give up soon.

    Assad? Why do we talk ourselves into being against Assad? Heck, IIRC, Syria was part of the Gulf War I coalition! Assad? He’s liked by the Shiites in Syria, right? So, what’s the problem? Sure, the Sunnis in Syria don’t like Assad. Right, the Sunnis with ISIS, Al Qaeda, UBL, etc. Why? We expected something else? Recall the 1000+ Shiite-Sunni war. That war’s a fact. I won’t take sides; hopefully both sides can lose, and often have. So, sure, Assad dropped barrel bombs and deadly chemicals on the Sunnis. And why didn’t the Sunnis drop such on Assad? Because they were more humane? ISIS, Al Qaeda “humane”? Not a chance. It’s just that the Sunnis didn’t have an air force to drop anything.

    Assad doesn’t look very dangerous to the US and comparatively not very dangerous to Israel. So, if have an enemy, then have Assad. So, leave Assad in power in Syria. Or, before dumping a really bad dictator, be sure who the next guy will be and that he will be better. Sure, Baghdadi would have liked to have taken over Syria and killed Assad and all his Shiites. Baghdadi would have been better? Some Al Qaeda guy?

    For the Iranian Shiites in the ISIS fight and their role in the Baghdad government, it was Tillerson or Mattis who told them “War’s over. Time for you to go home now.” Maybe that will work — should be the first thing try?

    Sure, the Kurds don’t have a state yet. Instead, they just put up some signs, that the US is happy to help them enforce, that read: “You are entering a Kurdish controlled zone. Kurds only beyond this point”.

    Winning can help lead to more winning: From ISIS, Trump is winning, big league! Or at least quickly enough to be big league! Even the Taliban can begin to see. So can Congress and the US voters.

    Oh, I forgot: There’s still Dumb Dung Dong Song Pong Ill Uno Rocket Boy in Ping Pong Yang — the MSM lets us forget about that and concentrate on, WHAT?, Rep. “Mad Hatter” Wilson?

    Well, we’ve been having joint US-Japan and US-South Korea air exercises. And now the US B-52s are on 24 x 7 alert. And, how many US carrier battle groups near NK? We’ve done some ABM testing, right? And no one has mentioned the US SSBNs on alert, but who would doubt that they are?

    Rocket Boy may face a blockade. Supposedly some Navy Seal like guys in South Korea have been practicing what they might do some weekend in NK.

    While Rocket Boy continues his trash talk, apparently Trump, Mattis and Co. are preparing for big fight, of just one round, only 15 seconds long, for a KO.

    Rocket Boy is a loser. Trump’s a winner. I believe we know about how this will end.

    • Interesting point about the Air Force, I remember having a debate with some friends a couple of years ago where I argued the UK was right to join the US bombing of Syria as it was the only alternative to even more British troops on the ground.

      Looks like I was on the right side of that argument!

      Though I do worry about the power vacuum in Iraq / Syria – could only Iran fill it?

      At least if Rocket Boy is defeated South Korea can step up (though that would probably be 1000x bigger than German Reunification in the early 90’s!)

  2. Excellent post BRC (as always)!

    Was the failure to get SOFA the fault of Bush or Obama? (Or both?)

    If things escalate to a full blown war with Iran and / or North Korea, will this not massively increase the US budget deficit and national debt? (Probably UK as well as I’m sure we’d get drawn in). Can you justify this as a fiscal conservative? What’s the best way to fund it?

    PS special thanks for bombing the shit out of the British traitor Sally-Anne Jones (despite that fucktard Corbyn’s objections). Us Brits owe that drone captain a pint!

    • .
      One can argue with confidence that the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan is a huge part of the deficit racked up by President Obama. President Obama added more to the US national debt than all prior presidents COMBINED.

      Of course, the Congress just sat there and funded their own pet projects. Nobody in DC has ever cut a cost. Even when they say they are, they are only cutting the rate of growth, not the actual absolute cost.

      There is no doubt that whatever happens in NK or with Iran will be a budget buster.

      If we had a President and Congress who were truly fiscal conservatives — it would take both — the budget would be balanced in a couple of years, but, alas, we do not.

      I fault the Congressional Republicans more than anyone else. The GOPe — the Republican establishment — is a worse set of profligate spenders than the Dems. The Dems make no pretense, while the GOPe pretends they are holding their nose as they spend the money.


    • .
      The failure to obtain a SOFA was an Obama admin failure. They should have dictated terms with their checkbook in hand. We provided every bit of military hardware to build the Iraqi army while taking nothing in reparations.

      I don’t think Pres Obama wanted any troops in Iraq to be able to say the “war is over.”

      We have had troops in Europe, Japan since 1945 with a SOFA.


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