One of the problems with Obama’s airstrikes is that we don’t have forward deployed air platforms which enable a true air campaign. Over the past seven weeks we’ve flown more than 200 sorties in the prosecution to “degrade” ISIS. In a dedicated air campaign that amount of sorties would be scheduled in what is called a 24-hour Air Tasking Order (ATO) by the theater Air Component Commander (ACC). A true ATO would encompass a variety of attack platforms that would entail bomber aircraft from the CONUS (Continental United States) as well as various service platforms of Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps assets — and potentially Army rotary wing attack assets (AH-64 Apaches).
The purpose would be a system of air interdiction targets as well as having an air cap capacity to engage targets of opportunity — in essence freezing ISIS in place. Of course the latter would involved close air support missions and that means combat troops on the ground to target and direct air attack platforms onto the target — and yes, you can use air surveillance platforms as well — which would also be a part of the ATO.
All of this would require shortening the travel legs of our assets and that means longer loiter times over target areas — basically blanketing the skies. This is what we do not have. How do I understand these strategic concepts? I was an artillery officer for 22 years and fire support — the combination of all indirect fire assets — was my profession. And we haven’t even discussed Army surface-to-surface assets, which can also be used in this targeting scenario.
Furthermore, as reported by the Washington Times, “The U.S. is relying mostly on warplanes already positioned in the region for its air war against the Islamic State, as opposed to dispatching a major buildup of aerial forces that happened in previous campaigns. The set inventory illustrates the slow, methodical nature of the air-to-ground battle that the Pentagon says will go on for some time. A Pentagon official said there are no plans to send additional U.S. aircraft into the theater.”
In other words, we’re just doing business as usual, no major air buildup or deployment. And what does the statement “go on for some time mean?” This shaping operation should be either effects or time based — and someone needs to ask the Commander-in-Chief which he has chosen, and please don’t ask Josh “Not So” Earnest — can’t stand this purveyor of lies.
The Washington Times article goes on to state, “Since the start of the air campaign on Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command has been choosing predominately small tactical targets in Iraq. It so far has held off from targeting harder-to-find objectives in urban environments where the Islamic State, also called ISIL and ISIS, maintains headquarters, start-up regime offices, courts and military installations.”
So we’re getting really cool pictures but no battle damage assessment — and in my reading and scouring reports — I’ve seen the high estimate of 12 ISIS fighters killed — ok, so they’re down to 31,488 now, YEEHAW! As well, has anyone heard any grand announcements of sorties since that first night where there were 22 — and only 14 were against ISIS, 8 were against the made-up Khorasan group (really al-Qaida in Syria, but don’t tell anyone).
Here are the facts — which I know progressive socialists just hate — as of last Friday, according to the Times, “the coalition had conducted a total of 243 strikes in Syria and Iraq over 50 days — an average of five per day. Central Command says about 300 U.S. aircraft in the region are available for operations in Iraq and Syria. “What air war?” asked Jon Ault, a retired Navy fighter pilot. “If we’re going to endanger the lives of our young warriors, then let’s turn them loose and let them do what they’re trained to do. Sending them in harm’s way with so many limitations is dangerous and cruel. We could bomb ISIS into oblivion in a matter of days, if not hours.”
“The administration’s approach is the least risky in hazarding American lives or committing to a protracted ground campaign, but is also least likely to change conditions on the ground,” said Dakota Wood, a military analyst at the Heritage Foundation. What I want to stress is that without confirmed ground asset targeting SOFLAM (Special Operations Forces Laser Acquired Munitions) you may find that really all you are doing is causing minor earthquakes as you pound dirt. “Air without ground is a terribly expensive way to deliver explosives that have minimal lasting effect, especially when the enemy possesses very little that he is critically dependent upon that can also be targeted by air,” said Mr. Wood, a former Marine Corps officer who did planning at Central Command.”
The point is that there is much ado about nothing and the rate of return on the investment on these air strikes is barely effective — ISIS has attacked 60 Syrian Kurd villages and overrun an Iraqi Army base last week. If there was a dedicated ATO with a air cap up and over the targeted area, ISIS would not be able to move — period.
Now, I just have to ask, who is approving the targets? I pray this is not another reincarnation of President Lyndon Baines Johnson who ran the Vietnam target list out of the White House — something that it seemed Obama was doing with drones. Man, can you just envision Obama and Valerie Jarrett standing over a map or satellite imagery directing strike packages? Yikes, but that may just be happening.
Regardless, we are simply violating every single principle of war — but then again perhaps that’s why Obama doesn’t want to declare it a war because then he would have to have some kind of strategy. And when do you expect Obama to go before Congress and make his case as PM David Cameron did? Yep, ain’t holding my breath either. However, if ol’ Barack wants me and some other folks to get together and teach him about strategic air campaigns and ATOs, I’d be happy to give a tutorial — in exchange for lowering our taxes!