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Pentagon: ISIS Adapting to Air Strikes, Targeting Becoming ‘More Difficult’

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Sailors launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Aug. 7, 2014. US Navy Photo

Sailors launch aircraft from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Aug. 7, 2014. US Navy Photo

The U.S. military has launched more than a dozen air strikes against Iraq and Syria Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) forces in northern Iraq, but the terrorists are adapting to operating while under attack from American air power.

“One of the things that we have seen with the ISIL forces is that where they have been in the open, they are now starting to dissipate and to hide amongst the people,” said Lt. Gen. Bill Mayville, director of operations at the Pentagon’s Joint Staff during a Pentagon briefing on Monday.
“The targeting in this is going to become more difficult.”

Thus far U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft have conducted 15 air strikes against ISIS forces in a bid to protect U.S. citizens and facilities in Iraq as well as trying to break a siege of Sinjar Mountain where the Iraqi Yazidis groups face potential extermination.
U.S. air assets taking part in the campaign include Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles, Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons and General Atomics MQ-1 Predators. The Navy is also participating with Boeing F/A-18 Hornets flying off the deck of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77).

“These airstrikes have helped check the advance of ISIL forces around Sinjar and in the area west of Erbil,” Mayville said.
In addition to the air strikes, U.S. forces are also conducting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) flights over Iraq.

“Over 60 intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft are supporting our coalition efforts in Iraq,” Mayville said.
But American efforts in Iraq are neither designed to defeat ISIL—nor has the campaign done much except to temporarily blunt the terror group’s offensive.
“We assess that U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have slowed ISIL’s operational tempo and temporarily disrupted their advances toward the province of Erbil,” Mayville said.

However, these strikes are unlikely to affect ISIL’s overall capabilities or its operations in other areas of Iraq and Syria.

“Our current operations are limited in scope to protect U.S. citizens and facilities, to protect U.S. aircraft supporting humanitarian assistance, and to assist in the breakup of ISIL forces that have laid siege to the Sinjar Mountain,” Mayville said.

Meanwhile, humanitarian relief flights continue.

“Over the last four nights, U.S. and UK aircrews have flown 14 successful missions, airdropping more than 310 bundles of food, water, and medical supplies, delivering almost 16,000 gallons of water and 75,000 meals,” Mayville said.

  • Ruckweiler

    What’s evident is that airpower STILL doesn’t take ground and hold it. Whether we like it or not, these guys will only stop when force is applied in their faces by Infantry and Armor. Air can do much but did we expect these guys were going to just stand there and let us hammer them?

    • Nick A

      I agree. Although I would rather us not give the Kurds heavy or light weaponry. If we do anything we man our own equipment and bring it home. Then charge the iraqis and kurds for the fuel.

      • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

        Don’t be such a “small thinker”, charge them for the rations, ammunition, pay, benefits, and depreciation as well.

        Oh yes, and don’t forget to throw in a “small” markup so that you can lower the taxes of Americans.

    • Secundius

      @ Ruckweiler.

      There’e an old Soviet joke. “Where two Soviet Army Generals meet in Paris, and one General say too the other General, by the way Who won the Air War.” Until you put boots on the ground, this is going to be a No Win scenario.

  • omegatalon

    The US DoD will need to change with the tactics used by ISIS and different aircraft like the A-10 Warthog and/or AC-130 Spectre gunship (possibly even Apache attack helicopters) for close ground support might be a necessity as US special forces personnel can direct fire.

    • Nick A

      We need more than air attacks and special forces.

  • Secundius

    I find it interesting that the Russians, Chinese and ISIS problems are all happening at the same time. I thing there something more going on here, and WERE JUST NOT SEEING IT.

    • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

      Don’t tell anyone – but it’s a **C*O*N*S*P*I*R*A*C*Y**

      On a saner note – the Russians are doing what the Russians have been doing ever since the Soviet Union went broke (rebuilding), the Chinese are doing what the Chinese have been doing since the 1960s (trying to keep their economy growing and building up defensive forces), and ISIS is merely the latest version of a long line of players in the Reformist/Fundamentalist dichotomy which has been playing out in the non-Judeo/Christian world for the past (roughly) 150 years.

      You probably didn’t notice any of these things happening because they weren’t quite as important to the media as the latest scandal involving the lead characters in “Dancing With The Survivors of the Kardasian Monster Tractor Pull and Gun Show”.

  • The_Universal_Curmudgeon

    Unfortunately neither the A-10 nor the AC-130 (Spectre) are “sexy” enough to get budgetary approval.

    Equally unfortunately you aren’t likely to see EITHER the Republicans or the Democrats even hinting that they’d like to send in US ground forces – even if someone comes up with actual live video of ISIL killing every single non-supporter of their own particular brand of “Islam” and announcing that they intend to kill every Christian/Jew/non-ISIL Muslim in the world.

    At least you aren’t going to see them advocating it until after TUE 04 NOV 14. I mean, really now, they would like to get SOMEONE elected and advocating yet another ground war in the Middle East is the perfect formula for not getting ANYONE elected.

  • Secundius

    If you want to Impress Your Enemies, then send in your A-10 Warthog’s.
    If you want to Give Your Enemies Nightmares, then you send in your AC-130 Spectre’s.
    If you want to Surgically Remove Your Enemies, then you send in your AH-64D Longbow/Apache’s.
    If you want to Totally Annihilate and Give Their Grandchildren Nightmares, Then you send in your “Beast”, your B-52 Buff’s, fully-loaded.