Posted by: James Atticus Bowden | August 13, 2014

How To Fight ISIS

US Army's Punitive Expedition in Mexico - The Pershing Expedition

US Army’s Punitive Expedition in Mexico – The Pershing Expedition

The US and NATO could fight ISIS and win.  ISIS is the Muslim group setting up an Islamic Caliphate across their conquered territory in Iraq and Syria.  They are committing horrific crimes against humanity – specifically inflecting atrocities against Christians.   Including beheading children.  The Islamist barbarians behead Christian children.  America and the West should hunt down and kill all of these barbarians.

But, President Barry Soetero, the ruling Democrats and chattering class are terrified about putting the Army – boots on the ground – back in Iraq.  They worry about having a third Iraq War.  Except, the US doesn’t have to have another war, just a very effective campaign.  Conduct a “Punitive Expedition.”

The US could drop in the 82nd Airborne, motor up the Mechanized brigade sitting in Kuwait, and flow in the 6 brigades or so needed to defeat ISIS in detail – even if it is 15,000 barbarians – and provide wide area security across hundreds of miles.

Boots on the ground for a long march deep into Mexico in 1916.

Boots on the ground for a long march deep into Mexico in 1916.

The mission could include turning over all the wounded and surrendering barbarians to local tribes – or putative authorities for a quick trial according to their customs and certain capital punishment.  It keeps the US from having to house or execute the enemy – as long as the justice is certain.

A Punitive Expedition takes months or a couple of years, but it ends.  It isn’t a Occupation  – the mission Rumsfeld and Bush II screwed up from the start in 2003.   It’s what Great Powers do to punish enemies with a purpose.  A SuperPower, like the US, can do it – if there is a Will.

In the late 90s when I was the developer and advisor of the Red Forces for the Army After Next Wargames, all the old soldiers got a briefing on the latest Army Operations Manual – good old FM 100-5.   When then-COL David Fastabend asked for questions, I made the comment that the Army should include Punitive Expeditions as a form of Operational Maneuver.  I wish he had included it.

The ISIS Expedition is within the capabilities of the US global reach.

The ISIS Expedition is within the capabilities of the US global reach.

The US Army learned many lessons during the Pershing Expedition. The Army applied the learning in WW I. Such an expedition against ISIS would provide continuing improvements in US capabilities.

The Army as an institution learns from every experience.  Each conflict creates hard, new lessons.

The Army as an institution learns from every experience. Each conflict creates hard, new lessons.

Moreover, a Punitive Expedition would give a lesson to other barbarians. As President Reagan said, “You can run, but you can’t hide.” The US and NATO should send this message to the all the barbarians. Let none escape. Let the land the Islamist barbarians conquered and stained with their crimes become their graveyard.

Would that we could – do a Punitive Expedition against ISIS.

My family oral history includes my Grandfather Atticus's stories of meeting Pancho Villa on friendly terms - twice.

My family oral history includes my Grandfather Atticus’s stories of meeting Pancho Villa on friendly terms – twice.



  1. You are absolutely correct. Punitive expeditions are the types of operations we can and should be doing particularly i this “stateless” war. The problem with our NCA is that they can’t adhere to the principle of objective. On the grand strategy level, they won’t even define the enemy in WW IV. The objective appears to be a tactic- terrorism. No comphrehension of Clausewitz there. . .
    Operationally, the same principle is missing. I saw a great piece a few years back by a Ranger battalion commander returning from Afghanistan. He said his battalion performed superbly at the tactical level. Near flawless execution of tactics and techniques. Won every engagement with the enemy. Yet he had no idea what the battalion had accomplished during its tour. No objective, no measures of effectiveness beyond the procedures employed.
    Same thing now in Iraq. What is the objective? How does our strategy and tactics converge on it? What is the focus of efforts?
    Seems all we do is driven only be US domestic politics. We look like the British did at Concord Bridge.

    • Thanks, DV. COL Harry Summers nailed our failure at the Operational Level of War in Vietnam. You’re making the same call. I think we agree that we failed at the Strategic Level, too for OEF and OIF. The Strategy should have been to Occupy until security and stability was established and maintained by a local force. Not about pretending to build a democratic state in barbarian Muslim cultures.

  2. What makes this particularly atrocious is the fact that WE, and every taxpaying American, are funding it.

    Obama, provided “ISIS”, with training, arms, and equipment, including MRAPS, Hellfire missiles, Humvees, millions of rounds of ammunition, etc, just for starters.

    That’s what was ‘officially’ supplied to Iraq and ‘left’ for ISIS to pick up on its way to the slaughter.

    That list does NOT include the massive amounts of covert munitions collected in Benghazi, shipped through Turkey, and supplied directly to the so-called ‘freedom fighters’, (ISIS), attempting to overthrow the otherwise stable nation of Syria, via the SUBVERSIVE, SEDITIOUS and TREASONOUS actions of the Obama Administration, intent on aiding and abetting, nay, FACILITATING AND COORDINATING the establishment of an Islamic Caliphate entirely engulfing what was once a stable Middle East.

    Jesus said “Ye Shall know them by their fruits.”

    As Obama fans the flames of Islam globally, Christians and Christian Chaplains throughout our military are forbidden to pray in JESUS name and being purged, while Islamic ‘Chaplains’ from the terrorist organization, The Muslim Brotherhood, are being installed.

    Obama has repeatedly declared and demonstrated his devotion to Islam.

    John Brennan, Director of the CIA is a Muslim convert, as evidenced by his pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, which are closed to non-Muslims.

    Obama has placed men in the DHS that are members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

    We have sown the wind. We are about to reap the whirlwind, and with few exceptions, THE CHURCH REMAINS SILENT.

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote:

    Silence in the face of evil is evil itself.
    God will not hold us guiltless.
    Not to speak is to speak.
    Not to act is to act.

    • Thanks, Catherine. Helping these Barbarians against Assad was a wrong move. I’ll like to see if Brennan really visited Mecca and Medina.

      • We never should have invaded Iraq OR Afghanistan. It was/is the Saudis who are the puppet masters of American Presidents. The Iraqi Invasion and over throw was based on LIES. What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan except protecting the poppy fields and controlling the heroine trade?

  3. Reblogged this on Citizen Tom and commented:
    In this post James Atticus Bowden has a specific strategy in mind. He calls it a “Punitive Expedition.” These days we don’t often speak of punishing an enemy, but we have done so quite successfully. Remember when President Ronald Reagan ordered bombs away over Libya (then run by the tyrant Muammar Gaddafi). Gaddafi survived, but after that he behaved himself. That was a “Punitive Expedition.”

    To take out ISIS in Iraq, Bowden has something a little more ambitious in mind than what we did in Libya. Nevertheless, he proposes a military operation with limited objectives, not a nation building exercise.

    How did we fail in Iraq and Afghanistan? Instead of just taking out Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and the Taliban in Afghanistan, we assumed an obligation to build both nations into democratic states. At the time, we did not realize that fulfilling these obligations would take decades. When we did, we cut and run. Then we looked back, and realized that we had no choice except to fight.

    So now what do we do? How do we fight? Why don’t we try punishing our enemies and supporting our friends as needed? Instead of taking over countries and trying build them up into modern democracies, why don’t we settle for conducting a “Punitive Expedition” every now and then?

    • Thanks so much, Tom. Once again, you make my point more concisely than I do. Punitive Expedition is a form of Operational Maneuver. The Strategy should be – in my opinion – to contain the Muslim Barbarians in Muslim lands. Restrict emigration out. Contain the Barbarians “to keep them on their side of the Rhine.”

  4. Reblogged this on A Conservative Christian Man.

  5. Great article. The fact is Obama with his no strategy comment has made us a target for every form of evil. He is putting us in a defensive position when America has always been offensive before this administration took us down.

  6. […] What to do: Punitive Expedition. 6 months to 2 years. See […]

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