Thomas Wictor

Without resolve, all is lost

Without resolve, all is lost

I’m reading the reports on the fall of the key Iraqi city of Ramadi. If true, they’re absolutely horrifying. Not because this means the end of everything; the Islamic State will be defeated in time. What’s so awful is the apparent lack of resolve among even the best of Iraq’s armed forces. People think that winners are never afraid or are somehow superhuman. That’s not correct. They’re just determined.

Here’s what McClatchy says happened.

Iraqi security forces attempting to retake control of the western city of Ramadi were routed in heavy fighting Sunday, the worst defeat for Iraq’s central government since Islamic State militants stormed across the country last June.

In a replay of last year’s military debacle, elite units abandoned their U.S.-provided equipment to Islamic State fighters and fled the area, leaving several hundred soldiers surrounded in the last government-held enclave in the city.

Multiple security sources, none of whom agreed to be identified, speaking from both within the besieged Anbar Operations Center as well as with the units fleeing the city, described the fight for control of the capital of Iraq’s largest province as essentially over after reinforcements sent on Saturday to retake the city were crushed by Islamic State fighters…

The elite Golden Brigade, Iraq’s premier special forces unit, which had withdrawn to the “Stadium” neighborhood south of the city on Friday to await reinforcements and prepare a counterattack had also abandoned its positions and was retreating from the area under heavy attack by Islamic State forces, according to two officers within the unit reached by phone Sunday.

“Ramadi has fallen to Daash,” one officer said. “There were many suicide bombers and many soldiers and officers are dead.”

The Islamic State used ten armored bulldozers to breach the city’s defenses. Then the terrorists attacked with both vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) and suicide bombers. Here’s a video of Iraqi special forces surviving what appears to be a triple suicide-bomber attack in Anbar Province last year.

The first suicide bomber emerges (red arrow), holding the detonation switch aloft.


He blows himself up, and then the second and third bombers attack.


Suicide vests have different designs. Some are meant to kill people, and others are for destroying armored vehicles.

Islamic State VBIEDs are heavily armored trucks that have to be taken out with antitank guided missiles (ATGMs) or rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Listen to the calm voices of the Kurds facing a massive Islamic State VBIED that had to be hit multiple times. They kill the driver at :44.

Those Kurds had resolve.

It’s obvious that the US did the bare minimum in the fight for Ramadi. The list of targets destroyed by American air strikes reads like satire or gallows humor.

Near Ramadi, seven airstrikes struck one large and five small ISIL tactical units and an ISIL IED facility, destroying four ISIL resupply structures, three ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL buildings, two ISIL heavy machine guns, an ISIL VBIED and an ISIL motorcycle.

No artillery positions were struck, even though they ringed the city. None of the ten trundling Islamic State armored bulldozers were struck. No waves of Islamic State assault infantry were struck. My guess is that President Obama wants to simply run out the clock and leave this mess to his successor. He’s pretending to help, but our contribution is often worthless.

I don’t understand why nations fight wars the way they do these days. Who is it we’re trying to not offend? The press? Are we now at the point at which governments and armed forces are terrified of angering these hypocritical, sanctimonious, lying drunks?


Why can’t we drop napalm on Islamic State terrorists? During the Vietnam War, we built close-air support (CAS) gunships specifically for urban combat. The Fairchild AC-119G Shadow gunship had four Gatling-style machine guns, meaning that the aircraft could fire 400 bullets per second. Sideways.

Even better, the AC-119K Stinger had two additional Gatling-style 20mm cannons. That gunship could fire 400 bullets and 200 cannon rounds per second.


A single AC-119K Stinger could’ve saved Ramadi. Why has the civilized world decided that prolonging wars is more moral? What happened to our resolve?

On April 3, 2013, my mother had an operation for Stage IV peritoneal cancer. She came through the surgery with flying colors and rallied for exactly three days. Then she stopped eating and exercising. We brought her home, thinking this would help, but she still wouldn’t eat or exercise. This led to terribly unpleasant scenes in which she threw every trick in the book at us.

“Just put me in a home then, since I’m so much trouble for you!” she snarled. “I didn’t expect such criticism from my own children!”

Tim and I had resolved to save her, no matter what, but as the oncologist finally said, “Your mother’s not a fighter.”

Some right-to-die creep on Facebook friended me for the express purpose of criticizing me for not respecting my mother’s wishes. Well, this monomaniac wasn’t there during the last three days of Mom’s life, during which she panicked after she realized that she’d starved herself into cachexia, and her heart was giving out.

Tim told me to not go during the last two days, because Mom was crying, moaning, and semiconscious, trying to get out of bed and run from her fate. The stress would’ve made me projectile vomit all over Mom and Tim, so I did as he wished.

There’s a lot I could tell you about my life, but I don’t see the point. A very happy man I know keeps writing me messages asking, “Are you all right?” I finally had to tell him the truth: I’m never all right.

But that’s not the end of the world. I’ve resolved to live a natural lifespan, regardless of what happens. I won’t—under any circumstances—harm myself. Stop worrying about that, and STOP ASKING ME IF I’M ALL RIGHT.

Today I received one of the rarest images on earth. It shows two members of a World War I Russian grenadier platoon. They wore grenade badges on their upper left sleeves.


Grenadier platoons were assault troops whose specialty was the throwing of hand grenades. They were so secret that it was illegal to photograph them. This is why there are virtually no known period photos of the badge being worn.

I now have this priceless image in my collection. Who knows what else I’ll find and preserve in the time I have left?

Resolve. It’s what keeps me going.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

—Robert Frost

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