War Against Islamic State to Last Generation

The Iraqi army has achieved its first major victory against the Islamic State, securing the main part of the city of Ramadi. The effort took more than a thousand airstrikes and saw bloody fighting street by street. The recapture of Ramadi's center required monumental effort on the part of the Iraqi army and its allies, showing that ISIS can put up massive resistance even in less-urban territory where it does not enjoy 100% unwavering support from the indigenous population. 

The battle left 80% of the city in ruins; making it a Pyrrhic quasi-victory of sorts, since not all districts have been liberated. It is possible that a coming wave of suicide attacks may make this victory only temporary. Footage released by the Islamic State shows the extent to which they are willing to employ Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices -- yielding massive explosions that leave craters the size of tennis courts. 

ISIS propaganda videos dedicate a part to their VBIED personnel, with a nasheed playing overhead. A picture of the "martyr" is shown over a clip of the reinforced vehicle they were driving to their predictable deaths.
Two VBIEDs can destroy a whole city block
As a VBIED drives to its intended target, a drone provides a live-feed to a command center where ISIS commanders provide instructions to fighters on the ground. Soldiers provide suppression fire, helping the drivers reach their targets. Following the massive, earth-shattering explosions, these fighters use the confusion to infiltrate and attack their targets. At the very least they leave in their wakes a massive trail of destruction.

Heavy shielding makes it difficult to shoot the driver or shoot out the engine. May require a TOW missile.
Indeed, it's terrifying just how mechanically the Islamic State is employing drones, high-tech encrypted communication technology, and advanced surveillance technology to aid what is essentially a car bomb followed by guys carrying AK-47s, PKMs and other Soviet-era weapons. 
PKM: Soviet high-caliber weapon
ISIS has its own Department of War Spoils, and during the battle of Ramadi has managed to deploy convoys that sometimes make it difficult to determine who is fighting whom. Most of the equipment that cannot be captured is purchased in Turkey and smuggled through Syria.
ISIS drone live-feed to military command center
Ramadi is a warm-up for what's to come in Fallujah, which was known as the graveyard of the Americans during the Iraq War. Noam Chomsky would go on to describe the American actions in Fallujah as: "One of the worst atrocities of the 21st century." 

To secure Fallujah, the US deployed 7,000 marines and destroyed about 60% of the city, killing nearly everyone who could be called an insurgent, and using depleted uranium and white phosphorus, leading to extremely high cancer rates in the city today. The people in Fallujah have not forgotten the past decade-plus of devastation, and its dense urban terrain means that the coming battle, which will be the first of many, will require many months and many bombs. 

After Fallujah, and before Mosul -- which has a population twice as large as Fallujah -- one thing is certain: the level of devastation in this war will mean that the Iraqi army will recapture mostly symbolic ruins from a group that continuously replenishes its fighters and makes videos celebrating their deaths. The Iraqi army will eventually face manpower shortages, and American planes can only do so much when it comes to telling the difference between an Iraqi army humvee and an ISIS VBIED.  

IHS Conflict Manager
The longer it takes to get to Mosul, and it will take time, the further the population will be radicalized, and Islamic State fighters will become far more entrenched. I expect ISIS tactics to solidly evolve towards Swiss-style mass-scale rigging, especially as their supply of MRAPs and humvees diminishes. Entire city blocks will be rigged with explosives, making any advance a slow, highly destructive affair.

As the Islamic State bunkers into a defensive position, it will begin relying on more terrorist tactics, avoiding direct confrontation if possible. Currently, the Islamic State is overstretched, but as territory is consolidated and solidly defined, their ability to recruit fighters from among the indigenous population will increase.

The Iraqi government was wise to eliminate its use of Shiite militias during the takeover of Ramadi, but sectarian tensions will always resurface, especially when the current Iraqi government changes, or when its policies are updated. The Islamic State will be lying in wait to exploit that change.