A guess why Da'esh doesn't advance any more

Recently I was in an e-mail conversation and noticed that I had not yet written about my interpretation why Da'esh isn't advancing any more.

I'll simply summarise it in my rather concise style as 

(1) The classic reason: They reached their culminating point.*

(2) Like the ancient Parthians, their way of war works best in certain terrains - low population density areas in which they can exploit their superior mobility both tactically and operationally. Compare the maps below:

(3) They'd need to grow in capacity (mostly troops quantity) to expand further, but the constant bloodletting by ground combat, bombardment, desertion and even killing or imprisoning their own kept them from sufficiently growing so far.

I'm not aware how exactly their personnel strength is developing (only estimates are available), but I dare predict that Da'esh won't expand much into more densely populated areas any time soon without a substantial increase in numerical strength.So in this sense the attritionist campaign by USAF et al was a status quo-keeping "success". I doubt Da'esh will collapse or shrink much any time soon without major ground offensives against it, though.


*: A reminder how classic military theory - even from the 19th century - can help interpret and understand events in modern warfare, no matter how "hybrid" or "4th generation" it may be .

edit 2015-11: The European Geostrategy blog agrees apparently.

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