Saturday, September 27, 2014

U.S.-Led Airstrikes Fail To Halt ISIS March In Syria

by JASmius

See if you can spot the reason why:

New U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State fighters failed to stop them from pressing their assault on a strategic Syrian town near the Turkish border on Saturday, hitting it with shell fire for the first time.

The U.S. Central Command said the air strikes destroyed an IS building and two armed vehicles near the border town of Kobani, which the insurgents have been besieging for the past ten days.

It said an airfield, garrison and training camp near the IS stronghold of Raqqa were also among the targets damaged in seven air strikes conducted by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, using fighter planes and remotely piloted aircraft.

Three air strikes in Iraq destroyed four IS armed vehicles and a "fighting position" southwest of Arbil, Centcom said.

The scale of this "air campaign" is what the good folks in the candy business would call "fun size".  Ten airstrikes combined.  Ten.  I seem to recall that during the "shock & awe" phases of the two Gulf Wars, there would be ten air sorties an hour against Saddamite Iraq, not ten period.  We took out "an" (singular) ISIS "building" - a tent, perhaps? - a "fighting position" (whatever the hell that is - a foxhole, maybe?) and six "armed" vehicles.  Now this isn't to say that the Islamic State had multiple tank armies in reserve somewhere, but when I think of "armed vehicles," I picture two guys going "hunting" in an old beater sedan with a case of Old Buckhorn and a couple of .22s mounted in the passenger window.  And we eliminated a whole half dozen of them from ISIS's military inventory.

Judging by the phrasing - an airfield, garrison, and training camp were "among the targets" - I can only conclude that the "US-behind-led" airstrikes either missed them entirely or didn't have enough onboard munitions to go around and had to abandon them.  Which, given the timing of the attack on the training camp - 2AM, when nobody was there - was just as depressingly well.

Please understand folks, I am not ridiculing the U.S. military personnel undertaking this glorified dronefest; they're doing the best they can with the threadbare, increasingly obsolete equipment they have to work with and the absurdly constraining orders they've been given and are carrying them out beyond the best of their ability, which is without parallel in the annals of martial prowess.  To the contrary, I heartfeltly feel for them, I silently rage in frustration at the humiliation being forced upon them by their commander-in-chief, I gnash my teeth at how they are not just being set up to lose, but are being practically commanded to do so.  It's like a pro wrestling babyface being bound, gagged, handcuffed, legironed, and booked in a ten-on-one handicap match against the top heel faction.  It's a match that isn't going to last very long, and isn't going to be much fun to watch.

And so the ISIS offensive rolls on, unfettered by the "world superpower," towards the Turkish frontier, which still isn't changing Ankara's mind about intervening against the Islamic State, although even Islamist President Tayyip Erdogan publicly acknowledged that, "You can't finish off such a terrorist organization only with air strikes. Ground forces are complementary ... You have to look at it as a whole. Obviously I'm not a soldier but the air (operations) are logistical. If there's no ground force, it would not be permanent."  Which probably means that O doesn't want the Turks in his "Coalition of the Invisible".

There is, however, still the possibility of escalation if something goes horribly, horribly wrong:

Russia questioned the legality of U.S. and Arab state air strikes in Syria because they were carried out without the approval of Damascus, Moscow's ally.

"It's very important that such cooperation with Syrian authorities is established, even now that it's an accomplished fact," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Friday.

First of all, the Russians are the last ones to be able to speak credibility of "legality" given what they're doing to Ukraine.  And they ought to know that when it comes to Barack Obama, legalities are for mere mortals to grapple with, not "gods".

Still, that sounds like snark to me.  The Russians aren't going to formally object to O's pinpricks against ISIS-occupied Syrian territory because, to the degree that they make any difference at all, it will redound to the benefit of their client, Bashar al-Assad.  And the White House did give Boy Assad a heads-up, and the vaunted Russian-made Syrian air defense system isn't shooting at our hodgepodge of "fighter planes and remotely-piloted aircraft".  They probably can't bring themselves to do so because they're laughing so hard.

But....would President Don't Mock Me take an opportunity, now that he is, in a token sense, bombing Syria, to revisit the "red line" threats against the Assad regime on which he chickened out a year ago?  Stir up the ire of Moscow and the Iranian mullahgarchy?  Not with a hodgepodge of Air Force surplus, he isn't.

Meanwhile, back in Iraq:

Monday, several Iraqi officials confirmed that ISIS murdered over 300 soldiers using chlorine gas in Saqlawiyah, north of Fallujah.  The soldiers suffocated and died from the chemical attack.

You know, from that stockpile of chemical WMDs Saddam Hussein sent to Syria for safekeeping before Gulf War II that animals like Barack Obama insisted didn't exist.  And it yielded them yet another Iraqi army base and haul of U.S.-made supplies and weapons.

I hope O has some pinpricks left over.  We wouldn't want ISIS in Iraq to feel left out.

No comments: