Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Yes, The Air War Is Working

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 16, 2014

Various entities with various interests keep insisting that the US can’t just help take out ISIS with air power alone and with Kurdish boots being the only ones on the ground in many areas.

These interests are being slowly proved wrong:

The aerial bombardment has centered around the Syrian town of Kobani, where besieged Kurdish fighters have desperately battled off a lightning Islamic State (IS) siege to capture the city.

According to Reuters, the US military conducted 21 and 18 strikes on militant targets in or near the town in the two 24-hour periods since Monday. In contrast, the previous week saw the area targeted roughly half a dozen times a day.

The intensified campaign, which has become increasingly effective due to intelligence and on-the-ground coordination with Kurdish fighters, has resulted in at least 32 IS militants being killed in that 48-hour period.

It has also paid dividends for Kurdish fighters who were at risk of being engulfed by the IS advance within “a matter of days.”

On Wednesday, a black IS flag raised on a hill overlooking Kobani was torn down after militants were targeted by coalition air strikes.

The airstrikes, in addition to making ISIS use up all those tanks and other munitions it captured from the fleeing Iraqi army in June (instead of saving them up for use in toppling Assad as ISIS’ Saudi and other backers desired) are also cutting into the revenue ISIS has been getting from the oil towns it nabbed back in June:

…the Paris-based International Energy Agency said in a report that the airstrikes have put a significant dent in the Islamic State’s ability to produce and smuggle oil – a major source of finance for the militants, according to The Independent.

Back in 1999, Bill Clinton and NATO used air power in conjunction with boots on the ground to force out Slobodan Milosevic and end the genocide in Kosovo. Fifteen years later, air power under the direction of Kurdish boots on the ground is turning the tide in Syria and Iraq.

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3 Responses to “Yes, The Air War Is Working”

  1. Charles II said

    Against fixed targets like oil wells, air strikes can be effective. That was the situation in the former Yugoslavia, where the air strikes wrecked the power and communications grids (not to mention blew up the Chinese embassy).

    But the Vietnam War illustrates the problem of relying on air power. Overwhelming force was used, and it never disrupted the flow of supplies to the south. Military efforts by outside (especially colonial) powers usually fail because they cannot distinguish between civilians and the military resistance. Since all civilians feel under siege, they collaborate with the resistance. The choice for the Great Power then boils down to genocide or defeat.

    Victory in Iraq will only come with a political settlement.

    • Ah, yes, I suspect the CIA took special pride in blowing up the Chinese Embassy. (Which had, as it turned out, been loaned out as a broadcast station to Milosevic’s forces, probably in exchange for whatever data the Serbs could glean from the crashed F-117 stealth plane. It also was serving as a storage site for information gathered on NATO defenses — information lost when the embassy was blown up.)

      As for Iraq, a political solution that partitioned it into three nations — Kurdish, Sunni, and Shiite — would be desirable. Whether that is currently possible is another matter. A lot depends on whether Obama can continue to resist the calls for American boots on the ground. (That’s why the survival of Kobani is so important — it takes away a key argument from the boots-on-the-grounders.)

      • Charles II said

        Thanks for the link on the embassy. Seems strange that the US would accept a major diplomatic embarrassment over what is, after all, a pretty minor target, and one addressed by less drastic measures.

        Some form of partition is what made sense to me from the beginning, although outright partition isn’t feasible. The Sunni region has no oil, and is not economically viable, while the Kurdish region has far more than it needs. So a federation-style government could have worked, if the US had allowed genuinely popular leaders to be elected, rather than excluding even low-level Baathists from consideration.

        The real fly in the ointment of partition, though, is Turkey. Turkey does not want the Kurds to establish an independent state, since then they will go about trying to get Kurds in Syria, Iran, and Turkey to join that state. I think they’re wrong, but presumably they worry about Kurdish control of oil. Most of their oil is in the southeast.

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