In all my years of being a soldier and studying warfare, I don’t think I ever saw anything like that which is unfolding in Iraq. We have U.S. military advisors there — and remember we had a CENTCOM spokesperson addressing our goals to retake Mosul. Then lo and behold there was an offensive operation launched in Tikrit — but the U.S. had nothing to do with it. That operation was Iranian-led and over the past three weeks has completely stalled, just like the Iran-Iraq War.
So what happens next?
The New York Times reports, “American warplanes began airstrikes against Islamic State positions in Tikrit late Wednesday, finally joining a stalled offensive to retake the Iraqi city as American officials sought to seize the initiative from Iran, which had taken a major role in directing the operation. The decision to directly aid the offensive was made by President Obama on Wednesday, American officials said, and represented a significant shift in the Iraqi campaign.”
“For more than three weeks, the Americans had stayed on the sideline of the battle for Tikrit, wary of being in the position of aiding an essentially Iranian-led operation. Senior Iranian officials had been on the scene, and allied Shiite militias had made up the bulk of the force. Mr. Obama approved the airstrikes after a request from Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on the condition that Iranian-backed Shiite militias move aside to allow a larger role for Iraqi government counterterrorism forces that have worked most closely with United States troops, American officials said. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps who has been advising forces around Tikrit, was reported on Sunday to have left the area.”
And so it seems we’re in another phase of rent-an-air-combat-capability, courtesy of our commander-in-chief, Barack Hussein Obama. This is a repeat of what we saw in Libya when we supported Islamists to overthrow that government and now we have an ISIS/al-Qaida in the Maghreb/Ansar al-Sharia sanctuary.
Having been an artillery officer and a fire support coordinator in combat, my question is simple, who are our pilots talking to on the ground in Tikrit? There’s a person referred to as a G-FAC (Ground Forward Air Controller) who ensures that the munitions are directed on target. Now, President Obama has stated there will be no “boots on the ground,” so are these airstrikes in Tikrit effective — or just bombing for show?
And who has verified no Iranian forces or Shiite militias remain on the ground in the vicinity of Tikrit benefitting from our resources — as in Libya?
We have been “bombing” ISIS since last August and one would tend to believe these guys are being pummeled into submission and decimated. That seems not to be the case. As a matter of fact, what is going on in and around Kobani? I know, most folks don’t remember where that is, and the news cycle just quit reporting on that battle space.
How many airstrikes have been launched since last August and munitions dropped? If we were effective in these munitions deliveries, ISIS would be a thing of foregone lore. Unfortunately that also is not the case, since we just apprehended another two cousins in Illinois seeking to join with ISIS.
When the White House spokesperson Josh Earnest is queried on this, or the faltering situation in Yemen, he continues to chime on that everything is working as intended and the strategy is working — firstly, what strategy?
I do not fault our brave combat pilots who are flying and doing as ordered. But we do not have a coherent strategy in the Middle East — ask the Saudis, who I’m glad to see have finally gotten off their duff and taking some action. But the real concern is the outsourcing of our air power towards some indiscriminate and undefined operation that is not yielding any effective results — no change in operations of the enemy.
What is building up now will have to be dealt with later — and it will require a greater Herculean effort. Funny, I remember my Article 32 hearing being conducted in Tikrit at the 4th Infantry Division headquarters– now we’re bombing it all over again.
We jail warriors and celebrate deserters — this is truly the definition of insanity.