- (Reuters, 11/24/2017) Militants kill more than 230 at mosque in Egypt’s North Sinai
- (USA Today, 10/21/2017 ) 54 Egyptian police killed in ambush, officials say
- (Al Jazeera, 9/11/2017) 18 soldiers killed in ISIL ambush in Egypt’s Sinai
This is slaughter. The inability of Egyptian forces to evade ambush, even when in offensive operation against ISIS, presaged today’s mosque slaughter. The level of combatant casualties presages collapse of the command structure. It may have already occurred.
Perhaps political obstacles obstruct effective support of an important linchpin of moderation in the Middle East. The perception of the Egyptian army as an acceptably professional force may also disguise the obvious problem. Remedies to consider:
- The immediate option is to provide Egypt with an intensive air surveillance intelligence product for the Sinai area.
- An extended option is development of air mobility, or at least adaptation of the older U.S. AirLand Battle doctrine to Egyptian conditions.
- Possible weaknesses in basic infantry tactics, as they are now applied in Egypt, rendering units vulnerable to the ambush, should be explored. One small unit rule from Vietnam was, “If at all possible, don’t walk down the road.”
This is an emergency. Political obstacles must be surmounted.
Edit 11/25. (Reuters) Egypt military carries out air strikes in area of Sinai mosque attack: security sources. Since Egypt had no awareness of the disposition of ISIS forces before the attack, it is implausible that awareness required for precision targeting would develop afterwards.
So what is the likely decision process of the military in targeting a map rectangle near al Rawdah? It is almost predictable that an unsophisticated military, confronted by a severe threat such as ISIS, resorts to targeting by coincidental association. Rules of thumb as to what is typically found in a rectangle are applied. If the bombs aren’t hitting sand, which may occur out of political necessity for “show”, high collateral casualties and limited damage to the enemy result.