Members of the US Air Force are grumbling because their Commander in Chief’s “no-boots-on-the-ground” pledge is keeping them from fighting an effective air campaign against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Within the U.S. Air Force, there's mounting frustration that the air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is moving far more slowly than expected. Instead of a fast-moving operation with hundreds of sorties flown in a single day—the kind favored by many in the air service—American warplanes are hitting small numbers of targets after a painstaking and cumbersome process.
The single biggest problem, current and former Air Force officers say, is the so-called kill-chain of properly identifying and making sure the right target is being attacked. At the moment, that process is very complicated and painfully slow. "The kill-chain is very convoluted," one combat-experienced Air Force A-10 Warthog pilot told The Daily Beast. "Nobody really has the control in the tactical environment."
U.S. military pilots carrying out the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are voicing growing discontent over what they say are heavy-handed rules of engagement hindering them from striking targets. They blame 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." He added, "They probably killed innocent people and spread evil because of my inability to kill them. It was frustrating.”
This crap has been going on for nearly a year, and they’ve been forced to watch Daesh slaughter their way through Iraq from the sidelines – only allowed to bomb one or two jihadis at a time.
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. A spokesman for the U.S. 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. “As our leaders have said, this is a long-term fight, and we will not alienate civilians, the Iraqi government or our coalition partners by striking targets indiscriminately.”A former U.S. Air Force general who led air campaigns over Iraq and Afghanistan also said today’s pilots are being “micromanaged,” and the process for ordering strikes is slow — squandering valuable minutes and making it possible for the enemy to escape.
"You’re talking about hours in some cases, which by that time the particular tactical target left the area and or the aircraft has run out of fuel. These are excessive procedures that are handing our adversary an advantage," said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, a former director of the Combined Air Operations Center in Afghanistan in 2001.
Deptula placed the blame squarely on the community organizer in the White House.
"The ultimate guidance rests in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," he said. "We have been applying air power like a rain shower or a drizzle — for it to be effective, it needs to be applied like a thunderstorm."
Of course this is his doing. He wants to be the anti-Bush – and Bush was hammered by the left for the (highly inflated) civilian casualties during the Iraq War.
“But wait,” you say – there are many more civilian casualties as a result of us doing nothing. ISIS is slaughtering, torturing, enslaving hundreds of people at a time – in the most heinous and gruesome ways!
But of course Obama doesn’t care about any of that. He just doesn’t want to get blamed for it.. And he knows, that by taking this dovish, hesitant, womanly stance, he keeps his anti-war base happy. And that’s really all that matters.
They will continue to gain ground, strength and power because President Fubar refuses to deal with them. But it’s okay – this cluster-F won’t reach critical mass until he’s left office (he’s hoping.)
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., recently complained that 75 percent of pilots are returning without dropping any ordnance, due to delays in decision-making up the chain of command. A senior defense official at the Pentagon pushed back on the comparisons between the air war against ISIS and past air campaigns. "The Gulf War and Kosovo are not reasonable comparisons. In those instances, we were fighting conventional forces. Today, we are supporting a fight against terrorists who blend into the civilian population," he said. "Our threshold for civilian casualties and collateral damage is low. We don't want to own this fight. We have reliable partners on the ground."
— Haidar Sumeri (@IraqiSecurity) May 18, 2015