Saturday, May 18, 2019

Urban combat: the battle of Marawi

I remember hearing a little about this Islamic uprising in the Philippines two years ago, but I had no idea that the combat was so intense, or that it took place on such a large scale:
Marawi: a vicious urban siege

On 23 May 2017, security forces from the Philippines conducted a raid in the city of Marawi to capture an insurgent named Isnilon Hapilon—the former leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and self-proclaimed Emir of Islamic State in East Asia. The forces who conducted the raid reported much tougher resistance than expected. The insurgents were rapidly reinforced and quickly revealed extensive preparations throughout the city—well constructed defensive positions, concealed routes, hidden ammunition and arms caches, and an almost doctrinal urban defensive plan. The raid was repulsed, and by the end of the day the so-called Islamic State in the Philippines (IS-P) had triggered their long-laid plans to dominate the city.

Martial law was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte and a five month urban siege to regain the city commenced. The battle was pitched against a well-resourced, sophisticated enemy who had the ‘home ground advantage’. Extensive preparations had been conducted throughout the city and an intense, protracted and close-quarters battle – the likes of which has not been seen in the region in decades – became the only way to destroy the enemy and recapture the City. On 23 October, following 153 days of war, this gruelling mission was achieved.

The costs of the Battle of Marawi were high. Opinions on infrastructure damage vary but aerial imagery indicates that huge swathes of the city have been devastated by the fighting – the mass destruction flattening entire city blocks. The World Bank estimates it may take two decades to restore Marawi to its original condition. However, the true price of the battle is that paid by the people of Marawi and the lives of those fighting. 165 members of the AFoP were killed in action, with over 1,000 injured. Some reports indicate over 1,000 insurgents were killed in the siege, which also took the lives of 47 civilians. The fighting drove over 400, 000 people from their homes.
This article would make for a magnificent piece in the next volume of THERE WILL BE WAR, as it is a detailed review of the tactics utilized by the armed forces of the Philippines as well as the insurgents.



Blogger McChuck May 18, 2019 6:32 AM  

It appears to have been a classic urban battle, as might have been fought in Hue or Fallujah. Concrete cities are hell on men, and vehicles in roadways are easy targets. You need engineers to blow holes in walls, so you can go house to house without entering the deadly streets. You need direct fire artillery (this includes tanks) to take down strong points, and mortars to dominate intersections.

Flame throwers and napalm would be ideal in this sort of situation, but Peanut Head threw them away. Thermobarics are great for clearing out enclosed spaces, but can't deny entire roadways.

Blogger Dave May 18, 2019 6:39 AM  

Next volume of TWBW? Hop to it!

I'd like to request a contribution from The Legend Chuck Dixon also be included. In the Legend's own words: "I’m a history nut and have a toy soldier fascination with all things military."

Blogger JACIII May 18, 2019 7:05 AM  

Looks like the Mosque is the there. Somebody missed the object of the exercise.

Blogger Avalanche May 18, 2019 7:14 AM  

Wow, interesting website; lots of eye-catching articles...

Blogger Meanoldbasterd May 18, 2019 7:33 AM  

Marawi or Malawi? I was thinking it was about Africa at first!

Blogger Avalanche May 18, 2019 7:36 AM  

Wow. Just watched one of the 'refs' to that article:

Eight minutes: horrific view of what happened/happens in urban war and 'clearing' (read: destroying) a city of in-place enemies.

And the thought that kept coming up, because it's a place of long-time anger for me: why the HELL do American women (((feel))) they have any place what-so-EVER in the military, in a man's duty?! Trying to imagine women in place of these small-but-strong men. Women with insufficient upper body strength, with shin splits from Basic training, with monthlies, with the inability to carry a 50-lb pack any distance even on the flat much less through the rubble of a destroyed city.

STUPID STUPID STUPID! Wish we could show this to the idiot congress and perfumed princes -- and ask them to JUSTIFY them caving to (((feminist))) demands.

Blogger Doktor Jeep May 18, 2019 7:42 AM  

If Trump were not president, US Troops would have been sent in to "restore peace" against the will of the people of the Philippines, making enemies of them, but not entirely making friends with these muslims etiher. Those thousand dead insurgents would be instead living in the USA and getting benefits as the groom girls and run radical mosques.
Duterte is the Pacific Pinochet. Long may he reign.

Blogger God Emperor Memes May 18, 2019 8:16 AM  

Should've just razed the entire city to the ground. There are no innocent Muslims anywhere.

Blogger Avalanche May 18, 2019 8:19 AM  

For any gamers, a taste --- and lots more here --

Article – Classroom Gamification: Tips & Techniques From the World of Video Games to Improve the Traditional Military Classroom

Become a Strategic Thinker by Playing Computer Games
Ah. The dream. To play games and claim it as work. This has been a vision for subbies for years; indeed from before they discovered Adventure Training 'recon' as a valid risk-reduction activity... Do we not spend millions on war games? Why are some types of games more important than others? In a previous article on the Cove, Mark Mankowski claimed that playing computer games actually improved the user’s tactical nous.
...In this offering I would like to quickly explain why some games, such as Wargame Red Dragons, are useful in developing tacticians but useless in the development of strategic thinking. I will then propose a set of attributes for determining the usefulness of other games for developing the strategic thinker.

Gamification is an ever-growing industry, which uses proven techniques to influence human behaviour. It applies the principles that makes games so enjoyable to make real-world activities more engaging. In this paper Callum Muntz argues that gamification can be used to enhance Army's training. He believes that by taking the best elements of game design and applying them to course design we can alter and improve the way in which learners can progress and demonstrate mastery.

Article – Using Artificial Intelligence From Strategy Games to Improve Military Wargaming
In August of 2017, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) named 'OpenAI' to learn the online strategy game, Defence of the Ancients 2 (DotA 2). DotA 2 has been regarded as one of the most complex online strategy games. The OpenAI system was designed, with very simple parameters, to learn basic instructions such as: dying is bad, taking damage is bad, killing enemies is good, and winning the game is good. This enabled the system to explore its environment and develop its abilities. From there the system built on these lessons and attempted more complex manoeuvres and functions with each game run until it reached its goal of winning the game.

Initially the system would stand still until it discovered movement. However as the system could run multiple concurrent games consecutively without rest, within a few weeks, OpenAI was executing more complex commands and was at a level of strategic competence that took champion human players years to master. When a subsequent match was held between top DotA 2 players and the OpenAI, the OpenAI won all its matches. Feedback from the professional players included the difficulty they experienced in competing against a system that was executing strategies that had never been conceived of before. Subsequently these strategies were adopted by the players to great effect, up until the system (inevitably) designed effective counter-strategies that were not able to be beaten.

Blogger pyrrhus May 18, 2019 8:30 AM  

Only a little over 1000 killed? Those casual numbers sound very understated...

Blogger maniacprovost May 18, 2019 9:01 AM  

TWBW... The Comic?

Blogger Avalanche May 18, 2019 9:04 AM  

@10 It always disturbs me when the "number killed" is celebrated...

"We killed 1,000 enemies -- and only 47 civilians" American Sniper: where EVERYONE he shot "was an enemy insurgent."

Every orthodoxy has a/some fundamental lie embedded in it; a closer look will show it. The easy lie is: "anyone WE kill is a bad guy." Except "Chelsea" Manning put the lie to that, didn't she/he/it?

I certainly am not 'putting down' our snipers: while I hate that "we" are off adventuring and killing people in countries I don't give a d@mn about -- if our snipers killing off any-old-local protects our guys, or allows them to operate with less chance of injury, maybe-okay. No, not okay at all: but it is what it is. I've also read The 4GW Handbook: easy first conclusion, no way should we be out adventuring; and second conclusion: shooting any-old-local makes two locals more pop up filled with murdering rage.

To me, it looks like: drone operators in Las Vegas watch locals on the other side of the world, 'decide' that any-old-local carrying a gun is a bad guy and so THEY KILL HIM. *I* carry a gun all the time -- granted a handgun and concealed, but if I lived in a third-world shithole and had only a rifle, that's what I'd be carrying all the time. If some soldier, doing his best IAW the mission assigned, saw me carrying the rifle I'd need in the midst of a shooting war, while I went out to round up my goats or water my crops to feed my family.... would *I* now be "an insurgent" and dead? Apparently yes.

Blogger English Tom May 18, 2019 9:32 AM  

That was an outstanding article and, as Avalanche noted, it's a really good website.
Also check out: Out of the Mountains by Dave Kilkullen, which is all about countering urban insurgents.

Blogger Dr Caveman May 18, 2019 9:39 AM  

I would love to read that.

And I wonder how entrenched and fortified Muslim communities in Europe have become

Blogger Bob May 18, 2019 10:03 AM  

The video Avalanche recommended

was determined by the "YouTube Community" as "inappropriate or offensive".

What idiocy.

This video should be required required watching in every movie theater, school, university and religious center in America by American citizens so they can be made aware of what just might be happening in their communities and cities in the near future.

War is coming. Americans need to be preparing. We need to be ferreting out and eliminating the enemies already among us.

To not do so is national suicide.

Blogger Brett baker May 18, 2019 10:05 AM  

Basically, unless you're willing to go full Yamnana, it's going to be unpleasant fighting in Asia.

Blogger LAZ May 18, 2019 10:30 AM  

@6. Avalanche

You need to give warning when you post a link with real world death in it. I'm going to remember that execution near the beginning for a while.

Blogger Johnny May 18, 2019 10:34 AM  

Christianity is based on the Old Testament, which is all over the place in terms of doctrine. And then there is the New Testament and Jesus. Jesus taught in parables which are subject to varying interpretations. And he never came to power, thus no history of what he would do. As a result result, while individual Christians may be inflexible, the doctrine itself is very flexible. You an make of it what you will.

Islam is not like that. There is only one prophet and all his writings come straight from the Islamic god. Plus that one prophet came to power, and so they have a record of his methods, That produces a doctrine that is much more narrow and defined, and therefore inflexible. That makes reforming Islam, which is to say coming up with more variable interpretations, much more difficult. And lacking reform, it is a nasty doctrine that does not fit in well with an industrial society. And even beyond that, it does not fit in well even with a primarily agricultural society. It does work well if the desire is to implement a seventh century warlike tribal society.

That is why Islam is such poison. Believers are largely locked in to what it is, and that is not good.

Blogger Mark Stoval May 18, 2019 10:38 AM  

I pray that God will forgive me for even thinking what I am about to write.

Considering that war is what it is, someday a leader is going to order the total destruction of some city or other home of rebels. In the case of the USA, one might see Detroit nuked. In the case of a non-nuclear State one might see saturation bombing WW2 style.

It would be a simple matter of will. The USA once did it in Europe and in Japan. It will happen again someday I assume.

Blogger Calvin809 May 18, 2019 10:45 AM  

Now we know how much destruction and killing will happen just to clear one city of a small number of them.

Blogger Gregory the Great May 18, 2019 10:50 AM  

Can serve as a timely warning to those who still think that most Muslims are basically quite nice and only want peace and will practice live and let live once they have made so many children that they are the "democratic" majority in Western nations. Just finished reading the book about medieval Soain a.k.a Al Andaluz by Morera. It is all about the "peaceful co-existence" of the religions - industrial scale crucifixions of Christians, Jewish barbers paid by the Muslims to castrate Christian boys, Visigoth Christian culture erased in wide regions of Spain. Thank you, Vox, for recommending a real eye-opener that has a lot to do with what went on in Marawi. Viva la Reconquista!

Blogger JaimeInTexas May 18, 2019 10:51 AM  

A government school?
I am not on twitter but I followed a link and just ran into this:

Blogger wahr01 May 18, 2019 11:34 AM  

(Coming to Minneapolis within our lifetimes)

Blogger Lazarus May 18, 2019 12:23 PM  

from the comments to the article:

2. A complete understanding of the mission and tasks. My CO and I would quiz each member on our role, mission and tasks until they could regurgitate them verbatim. This is critical if you want mission command to work. Giving orders is one thing, but how do you validate comprehension of the detail?

I used to work for a guy that did that. It was very useful, especially if some of the workforce was hungover.

Blogger Avalanche May 18, 2019 1:06 PM  

@17 "You need to give warning when you post a link with real world death in it. I'm going to remember that execution near the beginning for a while."

Sorry you were shocked, but didn't YouTube force you to 'agree and accept' cause some of it was not 'acceptable'? I don't agree with Bob @17 that such a warning is idiotic -- the LAST thing I'd want is some five-yr-old tripping over that video! However -- it IS our future! And knowing what it looks like IS good prep.

Having read the article that referenced that video before I watched it, I expected MUCH of the city to be in okay shape.... But: we're talking DRESDEN! Not quite Hiroshima, but getting there! Barely a whole building left standing! 400,000 people who turned refugee -- which was probably most of the city population. And, I think it's necessary to see this stuff: having recently begun reading around on the site of the ... doctor, was he? ... trapped in a Serbian town FOR A YEAR by a circle of enemies; no electricity, no water, no rescue, no meds, occasional food drops -- IF you could get to them before the gangsters and other starving armed folks beat you to it -- and then get away with some before they killed you for it!
Ah, this guy:

"Real world death" is what is approaching US. It's what they call "adult knowledge" -- and we in the West have been WAY too protected from having to face adult knowledge for a couple of generations! Wakey-wakey!

Blogger Avalanche May 18, 2019 1:12 PM  

OT: Anyone still using twatter: maybe share this video, that is apparently an ad for Trumpslide 2020 -- which twitter removed. Pretty great video! Thanks Jaime in TX for the link!

Blogger Beardy Bear May 18, 2019 1:38 PM  

Semi-OT: 2017 Las Vegas shooting- In the aftermath, Isis took credit for this shooting. Marilou Danley fled to the Philippians with $100,000 now unaccounted for. Meanwhile fighting between Isis and the Filipino forces intensifies ever since. Coincidence?

Blogger sammibandit May 18, 2019 1:40 PM  

@Av, thanks for sharing that video. Filipinos are cunning and precise. The editing with grenades and jump cuts shows that trait. It's always interesting to see these videos and how each nation edits the footage. Afaik the Ukraine Motorola and Euromaidan videos I watched rely more on long shots and less cuts, showing focus and ability to endure discomfort.

And we know that when nation unites with God, Christ Jesus, it is a very strong combination. That's why execution of Christians was shown at the beginning and the "no man left behind" footage at the last third of the video. The video is about liberating the Filipino Christians.

I wasn't disturbed. Not bragging either. A bullet is much preferred to slow decapitation, an execution method also used in Philippines on Christians.

In general, we need to be humble and realize our disgust is nothing compared to what our Brothers in Christ suffered at the gallows.

Blogger LAZ May 18, 2019 2:16 PM  

@25. Avalanche

Not shocked so much as sickened, but I get your point.

Blogger DonReynolds May 18, 2019 2:42 PM  

McChuck wrote:Flame throwers and napalm would be ideal in this sort of situation, but Peanut Head threw them away. Thermobarics are great for clearing out enclosed spaces, but can't deny entire roadways.

I agree with you. There is a fuzzy line between police work and military action, a line that becomes even more fuzzy when the military are sent to do police work.

This particular example was clearly insurrection and a military response was warranted. Put a perimeter around the city, evacuate the loyal civil population, and begin with artillery firing CS gas into the fortified city. Inform the rebels that the CS gas will continue all night until sunrise, when the shelling will switch to poison gas. Any who surrender before sunrise can be put to work digging the graves of those who do not surrender.

Surrender whenever you like.

Blogger cheddarman May 18, 2019 4:12 PM  

Human shields bro

Blogger DonReynolds May 18, 2019 4:28 PM  

cheddarman wrote:Human shields bro

Let me mention about human shields....

After the civil war, people complained about the US military shelling American Indian settlements, because there were innocent women and children being killed and wounded.

General William Sherman replied....
"Did we stop shelling Vicksburg because we knew there were innocent women and children in the city?"

Blogger John Rockwell May 18, 2019 9:39 PM  


Its even worse if they kidnapped your family as human shields.

Would one be willing to shell the city if they will be harmed?

Blogger justaguy May 18, 2019 10:20 PM  

As long as those in power are comfortable and think they are safe-- they will dictate absurd rules for war. When threatened though-- think Japan before the nukes or dresden-- kill them all. Russia thought it could ignore the rules in its first few run-ins with separatists: hey used copious artillery to save the lives of their men. The world screamed and they gave in. That told me that they were not really threatened or they would have just kept blowing the cities up block by block.

If things are dire-- human shields with urban fighting by lightly armed infantry isn't as much a deterrent as it is when collateral live lost matter. When it is dire, those lives don't matter and urban fighting is a death trap to big bombs and lots of artillery. Think Europe in WWII but with the ability to surround the city and cut off all supplies and have an order of magnitude more artillery.

Blogger John Rockwell May 19, 2019 2:30 AM  


I think also contrary to media propaganda. Whilst Russia in Syria has looser rules of engagement. Their bombs were much more precise than thought.

They do indeed give consideration to minimizing collateral damage if possible:

Blogger McChuck May 19, 2019 9:03 AM  

@33 John Rockwell - I would absolutely shell the city if my wife and children were being held hostage. I know they will not survive no matter what happens, as our enemies are ruthless and determined. Death by shelling is preferable to repeated rape and slow torture.

Blogger Unknown May 19, 2019 9:07 AM  

“Except "Chelsea" Manning put the lie to that, didn't she/he/it?”

No he didn’t. Anyone who’s watched the Manning leaked “Collatoral Murder” Apache gunship video can see what the Army saw: insurgents armed with RPGs and machineguns.

It is probably sad that Reuters journalists were lit up along with them.

But then maybe the reporters should gave used better judgment on who they interview in the middle of an armed conflict.

Blogger Bobiojimbo May 19, 2019 10:33 AM  

This is what we should expect if we stay in the big cities of the US when the collapse comes. This was just two factions, however, and the US cities will have way more.

Blogger Daniel May 19, 2019 2:37 PM  

No, you don't shell your family, McChuck, because that is horrible urban warare tactics.

Study what they did in Marawi instead of spouting off in ignorance.

"Shelling your family" is a victory condition for the enemy.

Blogger Daniel May 19, 2019 2:41 PM  

No, this was not two factions in Marawi. There was an alliance of at least three enemy factions, four very vocal civilian factions: Muslim anti-extremists, Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists, as well as civilian corps rescuers and of course the martial liberators from the Army, Air Force and Navy.

It was about as complicated as any multicultural urban seige can be.

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