ISIL as the 21st Century Herman the German?


2015-06-09  Our partner Rivista Italiana Difesa has published an article that looks at the evolution of ISIL’s military approach and Western responses.

The article starts by noting that the military forces involved in ISIL are the “most dynamic military amalgam since the time of the French Revolution.”

Interesting enough but the article goes on to underscore that simply declaring ISIL as fanatics does not take us down the road very far to understand how they fight and how to defeat them.

The article argues that in a fundamental way ISIL is like the famous Herman the German, a former Roman legionnaire who used Roman tactics to rid the Germanic tribes of the Romans by destroying three Roman legions in 9AD.

The point the article makes is that the ISIL is anchored by war veterans of multiple wars and conflicts leveraging inherited platforms and arming them in ways to support their warfighting efforts.

The case in point is using mobile assets armed with bombs as strike platforms. 

“They are using armored vehicles, tracked and wheeled, padded with explosives with a very high potential for kinetic impact.”

The platforms being used include American, Soviet and other vehicles (Humvees. T-55s, Soviet BMPs, etc.).

The response?

The Pentagon is sending anti-tank weapons, notably the SAAB Bofors AT-4.

The weapon was developed in the 1980s by SAAB and adopted by the US Army in 1987.

The weapon can be operated by small mobile teams to kill the vehicles rather than simply forming a static defense.

In the video below the USMC demonstrates the operation of the weapon.