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Old 07-08-2014   #1
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Default Beyond the frontline: watching ISIS

Londonistani is back, now commenting on the Middle East; analysing al-Baghdadi's "I'm the Caliph" speech at Friday prayers in Mosul:http://www.londonstani.com/blog/2014...the-narratives

Quote:
As opposed to Osama's empty threats and Zawahiri's tirades, Baghdadi casts Muslims as not a downtrodden people but a nation - represented by his caliphate - who are ready to extract their revenge. Unlike his AQ predecessors, he isn't looking for unrealistic concessions from Western powers but demands allegiance and assistance from Muslims across the world - his new constituency.

But it's about more than just messaging. ISIS has learnt how to synchronise its communications, military and political efforts for best effect. It makes sense that the group would use Sunni frustration in Iraq to cobble together an alliance to take territory. But to hold its gains, it seems to need to move quickly from a shaky coalition based on Sunni grievance to something bigger. The announcement of the Caliphate and the bold speech are part of that.
He concludes:
Quote:
Like AQ, ISIS's weak spots are its inflexibility, extreme sectarianism and propensity for bloodshed. And like AQ, it gains support when it can claim to be acting to "save" its core Sunni community. As many commentators have said, in real terms the announcement of Baghdadi's caliphate may mean little, but the Jihadi movement has turned a significant corner and what remains to be seen is what he can use it to do next.
Sharp-eyed observers noticed he was wearing an expensive Rolex watch on his wrist.

Londonistani had had a break from blogging, he has been working to support the media work of the Syrian opposition. His old thread on Pakistan is here:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8870

There is a short commentary on:http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world...to_pledge.html

Moderator's Note: thread closed and a new thread started upon President Trump being sworn in:Responding to ISIS & Terrorism under President Trump
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Old 07-09-2014   #2
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Londonistani is back, now commenting on the Middle East; analysing al-Baghdadi's "I'm the Caliph" speech at Friday prayers in Mosul:http://www.londonstani.com/blog/2014...the-narratives


He concludes:
Sharp-eyed observers noticed he was wearing an expensive Rolex watch on his wrist.

Londonistani had had a break from blogging, he has been working to support the media work of the Syrian opposition. His old thread on Pakistan is here:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8870

There is a short commentary on:http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_world...to_pledge.html
I keep reading about these Western analysts stating al-Qaeda's and al-Qaedaism weak point is its extremism, yet its extremism is what defines them. Furthermore, 10 plus years on since 9/11 al-Qaedaism has spread, and continues to spread, its influence over greater swaths of the Middle East and Africa, and their message still resonates with, potentially growing numbers of, extremists in East Asia. All these analysts may be prove to be right over time, and to some extent I suspect they will, but it will be long time before they collapse under their own weight. The Taliban didn't collapse because they were extremists, they collapsed due to our military action, and they made a successful comeback that they're maintaining despite our military pressure. If all this is weakness, I sure would hate to see a successful terrorist movement.

Last edited by Bill Moore; 07-09-2014 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 07-09-2014   #3
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I keep reading about these Western analysts stating al-Qaeda's and al-Qaedaim's weak point is its extremism, yet its extremism is what defines them. Furthermore, 10 plus years on since 9/11 al-Qaedaism is spread, and continues to spread, its influence over greater swaths of the Middle East and Africa, and their message still resonates with potentially growing numbers in East Asia. All these analysts may be prove to be right over time, and to some extent I suspect they will, but it will be long time before they collapse under their own weight. The Taliban didn't collapse because they were extremists, they collapsed due to our military action, and they made a successful comeback that they're maintaining. If all this is weakness, I sure would hate to see a successful terrorist movement.
You are very right as the 20th Century would seem to prove. The Bolsheviks and Red Chinese were extremists and very successful. Extremism is perhaps an advantage in turbulent times.

My grandfather fought in the Mexican Revolution 100 years ago. He was an educator and a refined man, double tough but refined. One of the most disturbing things to him about that era was that brutal men, extremists so to speak, had an inordinate amount of influence because of their extremism. In turbulent times like those they were listened to and followed.
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Old 07-09-2014   #4
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Londonistani had had a break from blogging, he has been working to support the media work of the Syrian opposition. His old thread on Pakistan is here:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=8870
Good heads-up on Amil Khan's return David. I like that guy's style of writing.
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Old 07-09-2014   #5
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Jon,

We are friends, much to the surprise of some of his friends and are due to meet next week I shall pass on your compliment.
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Old 07-09-2014   #6
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You are very right as the 20th Century would seem to prove. The Bolsheviks and Red Chinese were extremists and very successful. Extremism is perhaps an advantage in turbulent times.

My grandfather fought in the Mexican Revolution 100 years ago. He was an educator and a refined man, double tough but refined. One of the most disturbing things to him about that era was that brutal men, extremists so to speak, had an inordinate amount of influence because of their extremism. In turbulent times like those they were listened to and followed.
I see this type of analysis again and again, especially from our folks in the Department of State, but I think it is deeply flawed and without any intellectual merit whatsoever. They're looking at the world through rose colored glasses and make the assumption that all societies desire to embrace our liberal way of life. I'm confident that few people want to embrace the extremist way of life, but that doesn't mean they can or will stand up against them. Hard power trumps soft power when someone is willing to use it, and the extremists are. We saw this with Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, Kim Jung il, and now Islamist extremists.

There is little evidence of successful revolts against hard power if they don't have external support. The Taliban were expelled from power in Afghanistan due to military power. The Northern Alliance would never have freed Afghanistan from their grip without it. Saddam and his Bathist party weren't going to leave office as long as controlled their security forces without U.S. intervention. The oppressed people of North Korea are in no position to rise up. What state occupied by Nazi Germany was able to free itself via a resistance movement? None, resistance movements were little more than a nuance. A lot of folks in China didn't like Mao, a lot of those folks died in various purges. A lot of folks in the USSR didn't like communism, initially they thought Germany during WWII would liberate them (opportunity missed by Hitler), but they could rise up effectively, and Stalin killed how many millions? The list goes on, and yet we still have arm chair analysts who comfortably from afar predict extremism doesn't work. If you look at over a period of decades, then maybe, but it has been proven to be effective as a means of control for many decades in many places.

Revisit the theory of "competitive control" and then identify what elements are organized to establish control of the populace if the government falls? In the Middle East is either the Military, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the extremists that can quickly exploit the chaos that follows state collapse. Beautiful, peaceful, and effective democracies don't simply arise from the ashes.

These comments were a little harsher than intended, but strategy must be based on reality, not political correctness.
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Old 07-13-2014   #7
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Moderator's Note

Prompted by Will McCants article (See Post 28) I thought a thread on ISIS beyond the frontline - which currently dominates the MSM - would be useful. Not the news reporting, rather lessons learned, analysis and commentary as an adversary - for many - and as a threat.

I will endeavour to copy appropriate posts from other threads, notably the current Iraq thread and elsewhere. Outlaw09 has already referred to the information available years ago on ISIS / AQ in Iraq, that was deemed of little value - so I am sure he will chime in (ends).



http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/07/1...2F100%2F&ihp=1

Witnesses describe how Islamists leveled Sunni village as a warning


Quote:
The Islamic State heralded the “cleansing” of the village, which is near Tikrit in northern Iraq, in an Internet posting, bragging that it had blown up villagers’ homes, which it called “hideouts,” killed 28, wounded many more and driven the remainder from the village. It warned that “all those who may even think about fighting the Islamic State and conspiring against the caliphate can know what their fate will be.”

The threat was clearly aimed at any suggestion that Sunni Muslim tribes would organize to fight the Islamic State _ a strategy that the U.S. military used to defeat al Qaida in Iraq during the American occupation. The extremist rebels now have seized roughly half the country with little resistance from Iraq’s hobbled army, and it’s unclear how they could be routed short of a tribal uprising or foreign airstrikes.
Quote:
Our men were ready to fight, but it was the mortar barrage that won the battle,” Jubouri said. “Negotiators were calling everyone they knew on the other side, but the other side refused.”
Assuming this report is accurate, at least there are sources indicating it is, I think it points out two things: the IS are very worried about tribal uprisings and are attempting to quell them before they can gather steam through the use of terror. The same type of terror Saddam used to quell any tribes or organizations that were plotting to rise up against him.

Second, and I realize this is reach based on one statement in the article, but "if our men were ready to fight" is true, then the divisions between IS and the tribes may already being taking place.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-28-2014 at 10:17 PM. Reason: Add Mod's Note
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Old 07-14-2014   #8
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ISIS's hardest fight and greatest challenges will come after they "win."

They will find that their state sponsors will shift their support to more moderate voices that are more likely to govern in a manner that is not a challenge to their interests.

They will find that many who either joined them or simply stood on the sidelines as they surged to push back current state control will form into discrete and active organizations with their own popular bases of support to compete for turf, influence or even dominance.

They may have to deal with a Shia based, Iranian backed counterattack that will come in a wide range of asymmetric and irregular forms. To include Shia foreign fighters from India and elsewhere who are every bit as motivated as the Sunni foreign fighters working with ISIS today.

The better governance the people hope for will likely elude them for a decade or a generation or two or three. It is a process.

Like the US learned in 03, ISIS will get the big strategic lesson learned - "winning" is the easy part.
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Old 07-25-2014   #9
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JWing---an interesting article from Haaretz on the tactics of the IS indicates with new recruits their strength is being estimated at the 20,000 range which as you indicated they are holding as their reserves in the rear---estimated hardcore fighters at 3,000.

This does not evidently include the Sunni coalition forces from IAI, al Duri, and the tribes.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/1.606590
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Old 07-28-2014   #10
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I just published an interview with Small Wars Council's own Outlaw 09 aka Richard Buchanan. He goes through the development of the insurgency in Iraq's Diyala province, the entry of militias, the start of the civil war there and how the U.S. was caught in the middle of these warring factions never really understanding the environment they were working in. Here is a link to the interview.
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Old 08-03-2014   #11
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Default Terrorist armies fight smarter and deadlier than ever

A perceptive WaPo commentary, albeit with a Middle East focus, so IMHO not a global fact today. Three phrases:
Quote:
We see Islamist fighters becoming skilled soldiers...These fighters are now well-armed, well-trained and well-led and are often flush with cash to buy or bribe their way out of difficulties. (At the end) As terrorist groups turn into armies, pairing their fanatical dedication with newly acquired tactical skills, renewed intervention might generate casualties on a new scale — as the Israelis have been painfully learning.
Link:http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinio...265_story.html

The authors are:
Quote:
Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general, is a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College. Douglas A. Ollivant is a fellow at the New America Foundation’s Future of War project.
This also appears on SWJBlog, so link added that a thread has been started.
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Old 08-04-2014   #12
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This is something that shouldn't be a surprise. It has happened before. It probably always happens.

For example, it is described from the insurgent's side in Tom Barry's Guerrilla Days in Ireland. He was a former British soldier that trained up the flying columns to a very high level of small unit proficiency, thereby upping the ante. One of the things he said was that a group of intelligent and motivated men could be trained to a level of tactical accomplishment equalling the best regular troops in a week.

It was an excellent book by the way and should be on the small wars required reading list.
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Old 08-09-2014   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carl View Post
Zenpundit comments that one of the aspects of their genius is despite their horrific cruelty, they are still hanging on to a sort of moral high ground in the Muslim world, witness all those young foreign men flocking to their banner. He compares it to the sort of moral high ground the Commies held for decades amongst so many people in the West despite their murdering tens of millions.
There was a certain kind of Western support for the Soviet project in its earliest years. There was even an analogous emigration to the Soviet Union. There was a very different, at-a-distance support after Stalin Gulag-ed and purged those emigrants. It’s way too soon to see if things will play out the same way with the IS. But AQ in Iraq had decent popular support at one point, too, but they couldn’t help overplaying their hand. And this crew has been rejected by AQ in Iraq for being too hardcore!

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Originally Posted by carl View Post
These guys are damn smart. It hurts to say that about people so bad but I think it is true.
They’ve done a good job of seeing the opportunity in a crisis, there’s no denying that.

It’s apples and oranges in the end, but after your comparison to the Bolsheviks had sat with me for a couple of hours it occurred to me that as extremist leftist movements go, the IS reminds me more of the Shining Path. They’re completely uncompromising and own up to the violence they perpetrate. They can keep the members of a civilian populace and a government apparatus in states of terror, but they don’t really have much of a plan for maintaining a society. There are societies that have been run on pure fear for decades, but the showrunners came to power singing a different tune. The initial years of Kim-il Sung and Gaddafi had something of a mandate, and those two leveraged their mandates into strangleholds on civil society. There’s really not any indication that the IS has anything like a mandate, is there?

Anyway, just thinking out loud. I certainly don’t think “out of sight, out of mind” is the way to treat the IS, if that isn’t clear.
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Old 08-09-2014   #14
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Originally Posted by OUTLAW 09 View Post
Jwing---was working through some research on Shia and Sunni historical development and stumbled across the former al Baghdadi history and shifted from him into the Caliph concept historically represented in the various Islamic historical writings.

If you noticed outside of the first outbursts from leading Sunni thinkers about the Caliph being wrong---it has gone silent.

If my readings are correct--- because the historical writings and the use of the name of the former al Baghdadi seems and again Islamic historical writings are always open to interpretation---seems that the IS made a shrewd move on their part and in fact the IS might have the right interpretation of the historical writings.

In the Sunni Islamic stream of faith there are currently three Salafist groups moving at the same time and parallel to each other; 1) the purists who are not political and are fully into Islam and it's meanings, 2) the political types who are throwing out the terms down with US control of the ME/against globalization as it effects the ME etc and where a small number then drift into 3) the jihadists side.

There is an old German saying here in Berlin not all Salafists are terrorists, but all terrorists are Salafists.

If you look at al Baghdadi's statements since he has taken over and the IS actions they are in fact riding all three streams of the Salafist movement and appeal to all factions even al Duri's faction as the Sufi have been the "spreaders" of the faith for a really long time.

IMO al Baghdadi and the IS have hit the middle point of the Salafist movement that the AQ mothership failed in reaching even under UBL. The AQ mothership needs to be forewarned as al Baghdadi is not going away any time soon nor as it appears the IS is either.
IS moved fast in taking and holding ground. The terrorist troops are well trained. Why? Because they have technical knowledge as to how to operate tanks and AFV's. This suggests that the [Sunni]fighters of IS are former [Saddam Era] Iraqi Army officers, Republican Guard, and Fedayeen. It is interesting to me that in the media you see these "experts" commenting on the BRUTALITY of IS, but none has raised the point that IS atrocities and the public display of those atrocities in the social media and otherwise are making full use of PSYOPS. IS defeats its opposition psychologically before it ever encounters them in the field. It reminds me somewhat of what Sun Tzu said about the optimum in warfare is having the ability to defeat your enemy without firing a shot. I don't see men of absolutely no military experience having the mental disposition to wage war like the IS terrorists do. The approach is too professional even if it is reprehensible under the Rules of Land Warfare.
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Old 08-09-2014   #15
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novelist,

The IS has former members of Saddam's army, but probably more relevant they have former members of the Syrian Army. Additionally the different terrorist groups have members from various militaries to include Pakistan and even some western armies. Finding folks with the expertise to teach someone to use the various pieces of ground equipment, or simply looking that up online, shouldn't be too hard. Gaining expertise (practice) is another thing, and then using all that equipment together in a combined arms fashion is another thing altogether. Reports indicate they're employing a combined arms approach, so to me that indicates that some rather senior former military leaders are instrumental in this movement. Maybe not, but it looks like, and smells like that is the case.

For everyone else if you haven't seen the PBS special it worth the 90 minutes to watch it.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ampaignId=1000

Losing Iraq


Also worth reading:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ampaignId=1000

Inside the Rise of ISIS

According to the author this situation would have happened regardless of whether the uprising in Syria happened or not.

Quote:
That process, as far as I’m concerned, actually began as early as mid-to-late 2009. It was at that point that the Islamic State was in some ways forced to devolve into a typical terrorist organization. At that point it relocated much of its central leadership to Mosul [Iraq], which was a relative safe zone, and it was at that point that it essentially began its period of recovery.
Quote:
The “Soldier’s Harvest” campaign has been the second of two 12-month campaigns. The first one was the campaign known as “Breaking the Walls.”

One of the primary objectives of that operation was to re-establish sources of leverage against security forces. A lot of that was done through a very significant campaign of intimidation — including collecting local intelligence on the addresses and family details of local security forces across the country.

A secondary objective of that initial campaign was the breaking out of prison of not only ordinary Islamic State foot soldiers, but most importantly, senior leading commanders, who’d been in prison for the final year or so of the U.S.-led surge in Iraq.
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Old 08-09-2014   #16
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Default Profiling Beats Strategy !!!!!!!!!

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Originally Posted by novelist View Post
IS moved fast in taking and holding ground. The terrorist troops are well trained. Why? Because they have technical knowledge as to how to operate tanks and AFV's. This suggests that the [Sunni]fighters of IS are former [Saddam Era] Iraqi Army officers, Republican Guard, and Fedayeen. It is interesting to me that in the media you see these "experts" commenting on the BRUTALITY of IS, but none has raised the point that IS atrocities and the public display of those atrocities in the social media and otherwise are making full use of PSYOPS. IS defeats its opposition psychologically before it ever encounters them in the field. It reminds me somewhat of what Sun Tzu said about the optimum in warfare is having the ability to defeat your enemy without firing a shot. I don't see men of absolutely no military experience having the mental disposition to wage war like the IS terrorists do. The approach is too professional even if it is reprehensible under the Rules of Land Warfare.

That is an excellent analysis. The experts are approaching this all wrong. This is a Religious War and you must destroy the counter value targets first! Then go to counter force targets. That is part of the reason I keep pounding on some of the points I have made regardless of how controversial they may seem.

ISIS is demonstrating that their God is more powerful than our God. If you want to defeat them you must destroy "THEIR" symbols of Religious authority and legitimacy, otherwise they are continuing to demonstrate that their God is better than every one else's, which gives them a tremendous psychological and recruiting advantage.

The American military must admit that their old analysis and warfare techniques are not going to work and somehow face the fact that they must change their thinking and face the fact that this is not an Insurgency but is a Religious struggle for world domination.
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Old 08-09-2014   #17
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Yes, ISIS is waging a religious war, but what percent of the global Muslim population does ISIS represent? Worse case would be 10% (that is certainly high). You want to blow up religious symbols which will generate even more support for them. You accuse the President of being a secret Muslim, even if he was so what? Yet you're the one promoting a strategy that would support ISIS. Think about the 2d and 3d order effects of what you're promoting.

Destroying religious symbols is little more than an emotional approach that would accomplish nothing militarily, and only serve to set us back politically. ISIS is waging a religious war, we are NOT waging a religious war just because one of our adversaries are. We are waging a war against AQAA. The religious aspect is critical, but that doesn't mean we need to engage in religious war, we just need to understand our adversary is and what that means.

Consider reversing your proposal, if someone blew up your church would you roll over and quit? Or would you mobilize and resist harder? History indicates most will pursue the second option.
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Old 08-09-2014   #18
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Default Similarities between Boko Haram & ISIS

Boko Haram warned Christians to flee Northern Nigeria in January 2012. Nobody can tell my that the similarity between this an ISIS behaviour is mere happenstance. This is a face of Islam, that many of us are too "politically correct" to confront.

Quote:
(CNN) -- The militant Islamist group Boko Haram has issued an ultimatum giving Christians living in northern Nigeria three days to leave the area amid a rising tide of violence there.
A Boko Haram spokesman, Abul Qaqa, also said late Sunday that Boko Haram fighters are ready to confront soldiers sent to the area under a state of emergency declared in parts of four states by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday.
"We will confront them squarely to protect our brothers," Abul Qaqa said during a telephone call with local media. He also called on Muslims living in southern Nigeria to "come back to the north because we have evidence they will be attacked."
Recent weeks have seen an escalation in clashes between Boko Haram and security forces in the north-eastern states of Borno and Yobe, as well as attacks on churches and assassinations. Nearly 30 people were killed on Christmas Day at a Catholic church near the federal capital, Abuja -- a sign that Boko Haram is prepared to strike beyond its heartland.
Human rights activist Shehu Sani told CNN that the latest Boko Haram threat is credible, but many Christians born and raised in the north have nowhere else to go.
"The killings will continue," he said, and Boko Haram may respond to the state of emergency by taking its campaign of violence to areas not yet affected.
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/01/02/wo...ons/index.html
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Old 08-11-2014   #19
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Default ISIS Tactics

Link to Pat Lang comment on ISIS Tactics.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_s...-damshtml.html
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Old 08-11-2014   #20
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Originally Posted by JMA View Post
Link not working for me.

try this this one and scroll down to 7 AUG 2014 for the post I am talking about.

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/
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