Operation Desert Storm was twenty-five years ago, and one of the memorable engagements of that 100-hour open desert battle was the carnage of the “Highway of Death.” It was an open turkey shoot for our various attack air platforms, rotary and fixed wing, as they caught the Iraqi Army fleeing out of Kuwait City for Iraq. This is what warfare is all about, forcing the enemy into a desperate situation — and in the desert, there’s nothing better than a column of vehicles in the open, in broad daylight.
And so it appears that finally, that type of engagement and mentality happened in Iraq with ISIS. As reported by CNN, Coalition airstrikes targeted two ISIS convoys leaving Falluja over two days, destroying about 175 vehicles carrying militants out of the city, the spokesman for the U.S. coalition said Thursday.
The Iraqi military provided different numbers, saying coalition and Iraqi forces destroyed a total of 750 ISIS vehicles in the two convoys and killed hundreds of ISIS militants.
One of the convoys consisted of 700 vehicles, said the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, Lt. Gen. Hamed al-Maliki.
Garver didn’t say how many militants were killed. A U.S. official said the destroyed vehicles could have carried as many as 250 ISIS fighters.
Garver said a large group of vehicles was detected gathering in neighborhoods southwest of Falluja, west of the Tofaha Bridge, on Tuesday night. Iraqi security forces on the ground positively identified the convoy as belonging to ISIS, he said.
“Iraqi air force and coalition airstrikes attacked the convoy throughout the night and into Wednesday morning,” Garver said. “We estimate coalition strikes destroyed approximately 55 Daesh vehicles and we know the Iraqi security forces destroyed more.” Daesh is another term for ISIS.
On Wednesday, a second group of ISIS vehicles and fighters formed east of Ramadi, in the Albu Bali neighborhood, Garver said.
“When strikes from both Iraqi and coalition air hit the convoy, the Daesh fighters abandoned their vehicles and fled on foot,” he said. “We estimate coalition strikes destroyed approximately 120 Daesh vehicles. Again, we know the Iraqi security forces destroyed more.
I’ve read some reports that some 250 ISIS fighters were killed. Finally… but I must ask, why did it take so long? There are no trees or forests to maneuver under cover in Iraq for a long column. Any major repositioning in Iraq is done in full open desert, along a few available roads. With the type of aerial ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) platforms we possess, it is unconscionable to anyone with desert military experience to fathom how ISIS has been able to move freely about Syria and Iraq. Every movement, such as what just happened in Fallujah, is easily detected. How many times have we seen ISIS military parades in broad daylight via their propaganda videos? That is a big-time no-go.
ISIS should fear any movement, and I mean any. I don’t care if an ISIS fighter is going out to use the bathroom, the result should be his immediate death. That’s what happens when you’re committed and employ a 24/7 air cap and inform the pilots they have weapons free status once they identify the enemy. From the moment ISIS declared its existence, they should’ve been isolated, prevented to maneuver or reposition (we call that fixing an enemy), and destroyed in detail, in place.
We can celebrate this destruction of the ISIS enemy, but we must ask, who was preventing this from happening from the onset? If the Obama administration had the “Highway of Death” mentality, instead of the JV team obfuscation, just imagine how many would still be alive, not enslaved, and how many young women not used as sex slaves.
So, finally, something positive, which we would hope will continue to be standard operating procedure. In the aftermath of the Orlando islamic terrorist attack, there should have been a 24/7 air cap over Raqqa, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, with the understanding to anyone, come inside this airspace and we will engage. And our assets should have prevented anything from moving in that area of operations — of course, you use your ISR assets to provide targeting data.
That is what needs to happen — will it, dunno, but SecDef Carter is REALLY focused on transgender troops right now, so he cannot be bothered.
But, if this is any indication, well, we are not gaining any ground strategically against ISIS. As reported by the Washington Post, The U.S. military’s efforts to confront the Islamic State in Syria suffered another setback Wednesday after the militants routed the only group to have survived intact an ill-fated Pentagon program to train and equip moderate rebels last year.
The U.S.-backed New Syrian Army said it was forced to withdraw its forces to its base at Tanf near the Jordanian border after launching what appears to have been a poorly conceived offensive aimed at capturing the strategically important eastern Syrian town of Abu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border.
Islamic State claims published by its Amaq news agency that its fighters had killed 40 members of the group and captured 15 could not be independently confirmed and appeared to be exaggerated. Islamic State social media accounts posted photographs and videos showing brutalized bodies, the beheading of one fighter and small quantities of captured, U.S.-supplied weaponry.
The New Syrian Army said in a statement only that it lost “several men” before the group “successfully departed” to Tanf, more than 150 miles away in remote desert terrain near the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.”
You can just imagine the high propaganda tool this will allow for ISIS; hence, why we must have a strong information operation against ISIS. I remember how we did leaflet drops during Operation Desert Storm — are we doing the same now? We should be dropping leaflets all over Raqqa and Mosul, anywhere within ISIS-held territory, delegitimizing the savage and barbaric group. As well, we should inform folks of the losses, such as in Fallujah. If any of you think folks inside ISIS-held terrain know about their losses, you are horribly misinformed. That will only happen with our dedicated efforts — we should be hacking into their social media and news outlets to broadcast our message.
And again, we now have more US-supplied weaponry in the hands of the enemy. What I’ve attempted to lay out here is a strategic and operational level plan of action — something that is horrifically missing. The Obama administration continues to believe empty rhetoric will make ISIS go away; that is not a viable strategy. In essence, Barack Obama is hoping to just run out the clock and turn a morass over to the following occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania. Now, we have a choice in America. We can choose to continue with same failing perspective, or we can do something different.
As you know, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing and expect different results. Perhaps compassion, unity and love, along with a reset button and a nice hashtag campaign, will defeat ISIS?
Nah…the enemy needs a good ol’ fashioned highway of death experience — every day, and be told they are getting their arse whacked!