If you’re conducting a dedicated air campaign against an enemy, that means constant strikes well coordinated with ground assets. History is replete with examples of focused air operations — and even recently we saw that from the United States as in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I remember the opening night of the air campaign back in 1991. We used attack helicopters to take out front-line Iraqi radar sites in deep strike operations in order to enable fighter jets to punch through deeper into the country. And many of us recall the bombing strikes against the Iraqi army formations before we launched our ground assault — we refer to that as shaping operations.
This past weekend we learned about U.S. air strikes against ISIS. According to Fox News, “U.S.-led coalition forces conducted 16 airstrikes Saturday and early Sunday against key ISIS buildings and transit routes in the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa, Syria, a U.S. Army official said. At least 16 airstrikes were reported late Saturday and early Sunday, triggering successive explosions that shook the city and created panic among residents, activists said.
The U.S.-led coalition often targets ISIS-held towns and cities in Syria, but the overnight strikes on Raqqa were rare in their intensity. “The significant airstrikes tonight were executed to deny Daesh the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq,” Lt. Col. Thomas Gilleran said in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group. Gilleran, the spokesperson for the Combined Joint Task Force’s Operation Inherent Resolve, also called it one of the “largest deliberate engagements” executed in Syria to-date. “It will have debilitating effects on [ISIS’s] ability to move from Raqqa,” he said.”
I’m glad something was finally done in attacking the so-called ISIS capital in Raqqa. However, I would tend to doubt that 16 airstrikes will have a debilitating effect. If there were sixteen airstrikes every 30 minutes, every night, for the past six months, now that would have a debilitating effect. A sustained air attack is not just 16 airstrikes done in isolation.
Of course, without dedicated ground troops it’s hard to gather any real battle damage assessment (BDA) but there have been some reports. “An ISIS-affiliated militant website confirmed the strikes on the center of the city, saying 10 people were killed and dozens wounded. It also published purported photos of dead victims, including two of young boys suggesting they were civilians. A Raqqa-based anti-ISIS activist network reported eight civilians were killed by the coalition airstrikes, including a 10-year-old child. The report could not be independently confirmed. The network, called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, said at least one airstrike targeted a group of ISIS members in the city center. Another targeted an ISIS checkpoint while a third destroyed large parts of an ISIS-held brick factory in the city.”
Consider this, how much ordnance and fuel goes into a single airstrike, now multiply it by 15, ponder the cost, and the result it seems is about 10 jihadists killed, some wounded, and a brick factory destroyed — a doggone brick factory! We launched an air armada to bomb an ISIS checkpoint? What doggone strategic or operational value does a checkpoint have folks?
Sadly so, this is just another example of the facade of doing something with the intent of looking like you’re doing something, when you’re actually doing nothing.
Here was the desired intent for the Obama administration — the optics of conducting a “massive” air operation against ISIS in their capitol of Raqqa during our Independence Day. This endeavor will be touted as an American response to the threats to our homeland over the Independence Day festivities. Well, Shakespeare said it best, “much ado about nothing.” Especially considering what ISIS is really doing — like destroying the ancient, historical archeological sites at Palmyra. Perhaps that would have been a better use of our military air power — to isolate ISIS forces attempting to destroy Palmyra.
However, there is another story about ISIS and the Obama administration’s actions which needs to be highlighted. It appears our so-called allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will sidestep Baghdad and President Obama and begin to arm the Kurdish Peshmerga Army.
Fox News writes, “The U.S. has reportedly blocked any attempts by Middle East allies to fly weapons to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq. The Telegraph reports that U.S. allies say President Obama and other Western leaders, including Britain’s David Cameron, aren’t showing leadership over the escalating ISIS crisis in Iraq, Syria and throughout the Middle East. These allies are now willing to “go it alone” in giving heavy weaponry to the Kurds, even if it means defying Iraq and the U.S. who want all weapons to be funneled through Baghdad, according to the newspaper. High-level officials from Gulf and other states have told The Telegraph that plans to persuade Obama to arm the Kurds directly have failed. The Senate voted down an amendment for the U.S. to bypass Baghdad and send weapons to the Kurdish fighters. The officials told the paper they are looking for ways to bypass U.S. permission to give the Kurdish fighters weapons. “If the Americans and the West are not prepared to do anything serious about defeating ISIL, then we will have to find new ways of dealing with the threat,” a senior Arab government official told The Telegraph. “With ISIL making ground all the time we simply cannot afford to wait for Washington to wake up to the enormity of the threat we face.”
So not only are we wasting our own military resources — and anyone wondering what those additional 450 troops are doing? — but we are also blocking support to the one resilient ground force that has thwarted ISIS advances. What message does it send that President Obama is blocking support to the Kurdish forces? And our own U.S. Senate who wanted to arm unknown Syrian rebels — and we reported last week just how great that program is going — does not support bypassing the Iranian-controlled Baghdad regime?
Here is the solution. The Kurds are the most pro-Western and pro-Israel people in the Middle East — I should know since I was there. If we were to finally fully back an independent and autonomous Kurdistan, we would have little issue from Northern Iran to Northern Syria. We make it very clear that we will not support any Kurdish terrorist activity such as the PKK. A strong Kurdish alliance would be a bulwark against Islamic jihadist expansion, Islamist growth in Turkey, and Iranian hegemonic expansion. The Kurds are the worlds largest ethnic group without a homeland. I find it ironic and hypocritical that the liberal progressive left opines daily about “Palestinians” who are just displaced, nomadic, and terrorist-supporting Arabs. Palestine is a region. The Kurds have always been a separate and distinct people with a different culture and language — and very accepting of Christians.
I heard some folks stating that Obama had come off one of his best weeks. One thing is for certain, if Obama is having a good week — the freedom-loving world is not.