We are, sort of, using airpower to support the resistance effort against Daesh in Iraq. I say “sort of” here for a different reason than just that it’s desultorily applied, with a low rate of application. My “sort of” stems from one reason why that rate is so low.
…a bureaucracy that does not allow for quick decision-making. One Navy F-18 pilot who has flown missions against ISIS voiced his frustration to Fox News, saying: “There were times I had groups of ISIS fighters in my sights, but couldn’t get clearance to engage.”
Sources close to the air war against ISIS told Fox News that strike missions take, on average, just under an hour, from a pilot requesting permission to strike an ISIS target to a weapon leaving the wing.
And here’s the problem confessed, even though the man plainly does not understand what he’s said:
A spokesman for the US Air Force’s Central Command pushed back: “We refute the idea that close air support strikes take ‘an hour on average.’ Depending on the how complex the target environment is, a strike could take place in less than 10 minutes or it could take much longer.”
Ten minutes for a pilot on scene to get permission to strike. And, as the…spokesman…said, it could take much longer.
Ten minutes for a pilot on scene, who already has his rules of engagement, his limitations on collateral damage, his mission briefing, and targets lined up, to get permission to strike those targets.
Does this administration trust these pilots, trust their judgment, or does it not? If this administration does trust, the pilots need to be allowed to strike, not orbit the area asking for permission and waiting—and waiting—to get it.
A lot can happen in those interminable 10 minutes, and a lot more can happen in that hour. The targets can complete their mission, killing innocents or initiating their own attack on their own targets. The targets can leave the zone, or they can disperse. They can spread themselves among innocents, thereby running the risk of collateral damage above allowed limits for our pilots’ mission. The pilots’ fuel could be consumed in the wait before that permission arrives.
Our pilots should take off with permission to engage. We should be applying air power, not playing bureaucratic games.