t Bulldozers have become more crucial — and more vulnerable — in the fight against the Islamic State

bulldozer drivers like him are responsible for moving the war forward one block at a time. Iraqi officers won’t start an offensive without them, and if a bulldozer is knocked out with no replacement, the day’s operation is over.

“There can be no liberation without the bulldozer,” Shwele said.

.. Aside from screening for car bombs and acting as a mobile barricade with a top speed of just over 6 mph, his machine’s 12-foot-wide blade will also act as a de facto minesweeper.

.. Schwele’s dozer is a Caterpillar D7R, built in the United States. It is one of 132 sent to Iraq by the Pentagon since March 2015, according to data provided by the Defense Logistics Agency. It has additional armor but carries no weapons and weighs more than 32 tons. Websites price the civilian variant of the bulldozer at upwards of $200,000.

.. Massive and slow, the vehicles are a favorite target of the Islamic State. When they appear at the end of a street, the militants target their engine with rockets and car bombs.

.. Among one another, the bulldozer drivers within the Federal Police call themselves “The Suiciders,” a name bandied about with a grinning pride.

“The infantry, they can hide behind a Humvee or a berm,” Ahmed said. “I hide behind nothing.”

U.S. Says it Has Shifted Strategy in Fight Against ISIS

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says new goal is to kill militants in Syria and Iraq rather than force them to flee

The U.S. has switched to “annihilation tactics” against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, surrounding fighters instead of moving them from one spot to another, the defense secretary said Sunday.
“Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. And the bottom line is we are going to move in an accelerated and reinforced manner, throw them on their back foot,”
.. Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa,” Mr. Mattis said Sunday. “We’re not going to allow them to do so. We’re going to stop them there.”
.. those remaining behind Islamic State lines lack clean water, medicine and food, and have been herded by the militants into explosive-laden houses to be used as human shields.
Islamic State snipers have deliberately targeted children, said Stephen O’Brien, the top U.N. humanitarian affairs official.

A Bigger Problem Than ISIS?

The Mosul Dam is failing. A breach would cause a colossal wave that could kill as many as a million and a half people.

.. The wave, the Embassy’s report predicted, would move rapidly through the cities of Bayji, Tikrit, and Samarra, wiping out roads, power stations, and oil refineries; damage to the electrical grid would probably leave the entire country without power. At least two-thirds of Iraq’s wheat fields would be flooded.

.. “Less than six inches of moving water is strong enough to knock a person off his feet,”

.. Within four days, the wave would reach Baghdad, depositing as much as sixteen feet of water in many areas of the city, probably including the airport and the Green Zone, the site of government buildings and most of the embassies.

.. By the time the flood wave rolled past Baghdad and exhausted itself, as many as one and a half million people could be dead. But, some experts told me, the aftermath would prove even more harrowing. “I am not really worried about the dead—because they’re dead,” Alwash said. “What worries me is everyone else. How do you feed six million people in Baghdad when it’s flooded? How do you give them electricity? Where do they go?”

.. A third option, which has lately gained currency, is to erect a “permanent” seal of the existing dam wall—a mile-long concrete curtain dropped eight hundred feet into the earth. This would cost an estimated three billion dollars.