first published on May 21, 2017 by Josh
Sandstorms in Iraq can have an immediate and unexpected impact on operations. When the air fills with high amounts of sand, communications can become degraded, and air support becomes an impossibility. Without these two major parts of any large military, it is standard operating procedure that offensive operations become delayed until the weather clears up. With an under prepared and under funded organization like the Islamic State, it makes no sense for a superior force to make movements where they are losing two of their largest advantages. The unfortunate side effect of not pushing out and conducting operations however, is that you open yourself up to attacks from a force that doesn’t rely on either communications or air platforms to carry out devastating attacks.
To stack on top of this, members of the Islamic State, or other smaller and more versatile terror organizations, can use the natural concealment created by poor visibility in order to carry out some of their most devastating attacks. Putting in improvised explosive devices becomes much easier when you know intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platforms are not overhead to spot you doing the deed. Suicide attacks become much more viable, as you are able to maneuver your suicide vehicles much closer to intended targets under the reduced visibility caused by the weather. Moving out and into superior ambush and sniper positions also becomes a much less dangerous task, as offensive patrols that deny freedom of movement are not out in the area of operations to prevent such movements.
The video below was recorded by an Iraqi Soldier by accident. He was filming the interactions between himself and some friends while the unit was on standby waiting for a sandstorm to pass. Judging by the posture the troops are currently holding, which looks more like a group of kids goofing off than a bunch of professional soldiers conducting combat operations, they believed they were in a safe position where they wouldn’t be attacked by the Islamic State. The sandstorm however gave the suicide bomber the freedom of movement that he needed to advance towards their position at a rapid rate. This result of this unimpeded movement allowed the bomber to get up close and personal with the unit, where he could detonate himself at a deadly-close range.
After the explosion occurs, even more sand is kicked up around the unit’s position. This extra sand caused by the blast does nothing good for the Iraqi Soldiers, as an already chaotic situation immediately turns into one of complete confusion and devastation. If the Islamic State had an ounce of intelligence, they would use this to their advantage and conduct a large scale attack immediately following the explosion to capitalize on top of the effects their suicide bomber created. Fortunately, the Islamic State is not an intelligent terror organization and it doesn’t appear as if that is what happened. It is unclear if any Iraqi Soldiers were wounded or killed during this attack, but from the size of the explosion it would be a miracle if none of them were at the very least wounded.