Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Why Air Strikes Might Not Be Effective In Iraq

Most people seem to think that a fighter/bomber pilot can just jump into their assigned aircraft, fly off and complete their mission.  Now, that might be true if the pilot is aiming at a well-known and easily identifiable landmark or some easily-seen column of soldiers or military vehicles.

Having myself served as a military air controller, I know that pilots literally need "eyes on the ground" in the form of a FAC (Forward Air Controller) in order to insure that the real targets, and not some collateral targets, are being destroyed.  So, in essence and contrary to President Obama's commitment not to put boots on the ground, we do need people there to conduct airstrikes. First, to act as an intelligence source to determine what has to be attacked and, too, to act as a qualified FAC to direct and control the needed strikes.  Although, I am sure Special Forces personnel are quite able to both surveil the situation and call for and direct air strikes.

But, make no mistake, sending our forces into Iraq, to operate behind the lines in areas already controlled by the ISIS terrorists, would be an extremely dangerous mission; only achievable if our military personnel can easily and quickly assimilate into the ISIS-controlled Sunni population and be able to move freely enough to determine valued targets.   I just don't see this President putting our military personnel in that level of harms way.

What I think Obama will do is allow drone strikes on easily-identifiable columns of ISIS personnel; never once putting any of our actual military personnel at risk. Thus showing Americans that we are doing something to fix the broken situation in Iraq.  But, drones can't carry a lot of weaponry.  So, what will be required are numerous strikes with clear targeting of only visually identifiable targets; resulting in only limited success in curbing the ISIS march to control the country of Iraq.  Then, too, there's the problem of former Iraqi tanks and Humvee that are commandeered by ISIS in battle after battle on Iraqi soil.  It will be very difficult for drones and other aircraft to determine if any particular Iraqi tank or Humvee is under Iraqi control or ISIS control.

The truth is that Iraq is the proverbial "Humpty Dumpty" and it is now too late to try and put it back together again.  There is no way  we can reverse the situation in that country without another invasion.  What we had before we removed all our troops can never be recreated using the limited capability of the Iraqis and a few limited airstrikes.

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