Coalition and Air Strikes

The US has expanded its “air campaign” against ISIS to targets in Syria, including targets involving an affiliate of al Qaeda, a gang calling itself The Khorasan Group.

I used quotes around the term because the only ones calling it an air campaign are the Obama administration and the members of the coalition that flew into Syria along with the US. The coalition, the administration now is willing to say, consists of the US, France (which is limiting its participation to airstrikes in Iraq—recall that Syria was a French client before it became a Russian client) Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.

The US, though, has declined to identify which targets which of our coalition mates struck, how much ordinance each of them delivered, or any other material battle participation information, except to note that Qatari aircraft merely accompanied American aircraft without releasing ordinance or conducting any pre- or post-strike reconnaissance. Apparently their pilots were simply filling a periodic cross-country nav currency square. It’s also clear that the size of the Arab participation was token only: each of the Arab coalition mates flew only two or four aircraft in the strikes.

The US led off the effort with a cluster of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a ship in the Red Sea and one in the Arabian Gulf. Following that, the aircraft went in and struck a total of 24 targets. Count ’em.

Unfortunately, even a sustained series of strikes like these can hardly be called an air “campaign,” and it’s worth noting that no one—not the US, as Obama has repeatedly promised the ISIS terrorists—and not our putative Arab allies, who are even more proximately threatened, is willing to go up against these terrorists on the ground. (The sole exception are the Kurds, who are under direct attack, and we’re doing a woefully inadequate job of arming and training them. Even the Iraqi “army,” also under direct attack, cuts and runs at every opportunity, rather than going onto the offensive and attacking, on the ground, these terrorists.) Air strikes alone, even a serious campaign, cannot defeat an enemy that already occupies extensive territory.

No, the Syria strikes were just more potshots, in the style of our month-long series of strikes in Iraq; they’re not part of a serious campaign, in coordination with an equally extensive ground campaign, of striking simultaneously all across ISIS-held territory, attacking infrastructure, equipment, weapons and ammunition depots, the terrorists themselves—strategic as well as tactical targets.

In fact, given the loud, public advance notice President Barack Obama gave—two weeks’ worth—to anyone who would listen, including explicitly the Syrian and Iranian governments, very few ISIS terrorists—some 120, or so—were killed: the buildings hit, including a couple of ammo dumps and a command center, were largely empty when the coalition struck.

This isn’t a serious effort; it won’t be, as it runs counter to Obama’s six-year theme that if we only sit down and talk, things will be resolved amicably.

Given the different…goals…of Obama and the terrorists, I’m reminded, again, of the parable of the mouse and the owl. The mouse thinks the owl’s ways are wrong; the owl thinks the mouse is lunch.

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