Mad Max: Fury Road is a fantastic movie. It's a movie that is good, no matter how you shake it. What's even better is how the tyrants in the film would be considered, in any other environment, as a pretty typical irregular or insurgent force, definitely on par with ISIS. Immortan Joe's despicable triumvirate with the Bullet Farmer of the Bullet Farm (a re-purposed lead mine) and the People Eater of Gastown (a refurbished oil refinery) business and stateship practises are pretty much from the same play book as al-Baghdadi's.
Both have an entirely punitive system of control. When ISIS was still Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), they controlled areas of Iraq by basically saying to Sunni populations it's either us or the Shia. Many citizens of Iraq lived a blighted existence where their women were treated as cattle, their children had their knees drilled and their men dismembered because they were lead to believe that this was somehow better than living under the actual Iraqi government. For those playing at home, AQI caused much of the instability after the al-Askari bombing of 2006.
Immortan Joe, a former ADF officer named Joe Moore who started a gang after wars for oil and water, took his fiefdom, on the other hand, rather than trying to out govern anyone. Because he controlled water in a desert, it was his triumvirate, as either militia man or slave, or nothing. Forever.
Water is also something both groups manipulate. Water was cut to Pristina after a plot by ISIS to poison water was uncovered by the Kosovo government July this year. ISIS also threatened to destroy the Mosul Dam in Iraq which would destroy over half of Mosul, a city with a population of 664,000 people.
Immortan Joe's army (IJA) controlled effectively the only potable water source in his immediate region. Immortan Joe took the aquifer he controls in the film and rebuilt it after it was destroyed by retreating enemy forces, explained in a prelude graphic novel, and cemented himself as a god.
The most striking resemblance between the two is their operational tactics: Both at one stage were mobilised infantry.
ISIS started it's life, after breaking from AQ, as a mobilised infantry conventional force. ISIS's blitz mid last year in Iraq was carried out by not more than 1000 members. Those 1000 soldiers managed to route an army many times it's size using Hiluxes and busted Kalashnikovs. It's needs to be conceded that obviously there was also a lot more going on there than is being let on. Iraqi army (IA) officers who were sympathetic to ISIS did order subordinates to drop their weapons and uniforms and run. The IA itself is so deeply fractious due to being roughly half Shia and half Sunni that they either thought there was little gain in protecting another sect's people or ultimately saw their side coming to power respectively.
Not only that, Iraq is a very, very flat country with little rainfall. There's no way you can patrol on foot, so light skin, easy to maintain vehicles that can carry four guys and a PKM is going to be the way to do it.
Immortan Joe obviously had little choice but to do the same thing as well considering he works in a desert with no features to speak of. With every War Boy in his army doubling as a mechanic, his army is comprised of long range, light skin, easy to maintain vehicles as well. The focus of IJA being more in the vehicle more than the driver or crew. The crew are entirely disposable and are bred to believe as such, only knowing reward in death.
So, what would it look like if they went toe to toe?
Using Syria as the test bed for this example, and presuming it's just ISIS and IJA without the huge web of intrigue that currently exists, you've got a pretty serious fight on your hands.
Say ISIS controls Raqqa, as it does now, along with all of the existing territory it controls. IJA controls Tabqa Dam, keeping in line with the idea that much of IJA relies on control of water sources, but adding a spot feature in the middle of al-Tabqa itself, ala Fury Road. IJA basically starts encircled, which is fine, because it's not like they give a shit about losses to start with, but divided as well by distance between the Bullet Farm and Gastown.
IJA's first action is securing it's supply lines. Without it's supply lines, shipping munitions, petrol and water and food stops and IJA are finished. The three disparate heads lose them because the only thing they can actually provide that means anything, resources, isn't coming. This is similar for ISIS, but ISIS have a more diversified income. IJA begins doing so, but begins hitting IEDs, something they seem to not really experience before.
Problem is, well, they can't really change it up like ISIS can, so they've immediately got a problem. So they go on the offensive.
Mammoth raiding parties begin. Streams of V8s with outriders with nothing more than pistols and gunpowder filled sticks begin smashing up ISIS villages. ISIS can't take the blitz and begin booby trapping the houses, which doesn't work. Why would an organisation focused around one point clear a village? They capture the women and children, kill the men and go home. This also eliminates the traditional “here's $50 and shovel, start laying IEDs” method of attack because there's less people to do it. Supply lines are now secure again.
Raiding parties now are just a prophylactic measure and ISIS is losing the only thing that matters to them: people. Without people, ISIS doesn't matter anymore, so now they have to fight the convoys, what IJA are actually prepared for, but they lack the modern weaponry that ISIS have. They also begin blowing bridges throughout the land, seriously diminishing the ability for IJA to resupply it's other holdings.
Restricted to pistols, thundersticks, flame throwers and knives, IJA start losing convoys to mortars, DHSk technicals and MILAN systems. They're in big trouble. What weapons IJA can capture don't last long. With the supply lines getting strangled, they're in trouble.
Slowly but surely, IJA are ground down. The War Boys keep dying and the requisite truck, mechanic, defensive driving and CQB training aren't being met with less area to work in, not as well trained War Boys getting sent out and Immortan Joe losing his god like grip on people. ISIS now move in on the spot feature in al-Tabqa.
Suicide bombings involving up armoured vehicles begins, not any structures, but just on the people at the base of the spot feature. ISIS begin offering them ways out in the form of escape corridors to their territory. That in between lobbing a rocket or two at the top of the base feature: Immortan Joe's citadel.
Driven mad by the deaths of his wives, wounded children and terrified advisors, the human shield of his subjects disappearing and his inability to control water, Joe begins to lead attacks himself... just as ISIS begin sending militants up the spot feature, the same way Immortan Joe originally captured it from the tribe before him. He's still losing men, he's still losing vehicles, so he returns, only to find his whole world destroyed. He can't call for assistance from the Bullet Farm or Gastown, they already signed up with ISIS who can offer more security and are now the bigger tribe. Joe's through, sodomised with knives like Gaddafi and dragged through the streets like Hector.
It does make you wonder, if the world hadn't ended in the early 1980s in the Mad Max world, could the various gangs, tribes and war lords have been able to hold on to more knowledge? Could they have managed to actually produce better fiefdoms or diversify their various economies and tactics? Probably not, because they ultimately are victims of their own environment, large open spaces, and doctrine, absolute control over everything they see. Every attack has to be out in the open. Every attack has to be head on so only the strongest survive.
ISIS just don't have to do that because they always fight from a position of weakness, whether it be in numbers, area of operations or otherwise because they just live in amongst everyone, in all the holes you can't plug and they'll adapt whenever they can. We need to as well.
By Hannibal Presley