121 SDF killed, hundreds of boys missing

Latest update on the counts coming from the attack Gweiran prison:

See: Watchdog says 100s of boys missing from Kurdish Syria prison

The count of casualties from the attack on Gweiran prison by ISIL is 40 Kurdish fighters, 77 prison employees and 4 civilians. SDF says that ISIL lost 374 “detainees and attackers.” I assume that means that this figure includes a large number of the people that were already in the prison at the start of the operation. Actual ISIL losses were probably less.

Meanwhile, they are reporting hundreds of boys from the prison are missing. New ISIL recruits?

We did cap the latest leader of ISIL this week. I believe this the second leader of ISIL we have gotten rid of in addition to the leader of Al Queda in Iraq. In my book America’s Modern Wars, we did briefly discuss decapitating insurgencies (pages 151-153). We did not come up with a clear answer. We only had about dozen cases to look at, and of the four we examined in depth, in all cases the insurgency still won. Our conclusions were (page 153): “Now this is not to say we should not go after insurgent leadership when we have the chance. We obviously should. But, it is to stress that you should be careful about giving ‘decapitation’ too much importance as a strategic answer to your counterinsurgent problem.” and “Still, if you have the means to try decapitation, it is important to do so in such a way that you do not kill civilians or give them propaganda tools that they can use. In the end, if you are losing the propaganda war while you are trying to decapitate, then you are working against yourself.”  

I do sometimes fear that the U.S. is using decapitation to show we are “combatting the insurgency” as opposed to actually combatting the insurgency.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
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Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
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His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
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Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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