The United States was a No Show for the two most important military actions against ISIS/DAESH in May of 2015. We did absolutely nothing at two of the major battles:
• Palmyra in Syria; and
• the fight against a pocket of 1,500 ISIS stragglers who are surrounded in the area between Baiji and Kirkuk
CENTCOM logged no strikes in either area over the whole month.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) delivered all of seven airstrikes to Ramadi from the morning of the 14th through the night of the 15th to 8 AM on the 16th. Not one of the seven strikes hit ISIS troops engaged in battle with Iraqi Security Force units defending the city. Also no C-130, no A-10 Warthog. No close air support with Al Asad air base 10 minutes from the fight.
During this time period ISIS and its Islamist allies generated a conflict that took more than 10,000 lives, mostly civilians. The action combined irregular warfare with terrorism and acts of genocide across the two countries. Propaganda items appeared in Western press seeking to blame these slaughters on "Shiite militia" and on the Syrian government. Their troops do not go on killing sprees. It's ISIS that by far makes up the world's largest collection of psychopaths.
Going with 15 to 36 airstrikes a day and some days no strikes at all is a tiny fraction of what the U.S. can do to disable ISIS military operations.
2% of Available Capacity
The numbers for CENTCOM's attacks and destructive results in Syria and Iraq are posted online. During the month of May CENTCOM brought down totals of 188 officially logged airstrikes on Syrian targets and 389 logged airstrikes on targets in Iraq.
Fewer than 600 hits in a month of warfare. That's including drone strikes. And close air support (CAS) for the Kurds at Kobani.
Contrast these efforts with airstrikes during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The total for everything done against ISIS in May would not have equaled one full day's work when the enemy was Saddam Hussein. During the invasion phase of that war, CENTCOM flew 800 sorties a day.
Frequently these planes scored hits on more than 1,000 distinct locations in a day. Day after day all the important sites were pounded to rubble.
And that was before the U.S. acquired an additional 500 missile-carrying drones. In Syria in May, ISIS was been hit at five locations. Al Qaeda was hit three times at Aleppo:
When you look at that map -- with one exception for Kobani up north at the border with Turkey -- it is clear that CENTCOM did nothing in the parts of Syria where ISIS has the largest elements of its army. Half-a-dozen battles have continued through the month with artillery barrages and ground combat.
ISIS is running radio stations out there, if anyone needs a place to start. ISIS has hundreds of artillery pieces, pickup trucks with anti-aircraft guns, mobile wheels-on-wheels, and truck loads of ammunition. There is no shortage of targets in western Syria.
What is happening overall? Working the data to get a "Why?" and a "How?" leaves us with more questions than answers.
• Between President Obama, SecDef Ashton Carter, and CENTCOM is this a serious effort to put ISIS out of business?
• Or alternatively: is CENTCOM under orders to pressure ISIS to re-lo out of Iraq and redirect its forces to western Syria?
And if the latter is accurate:
• Is the CENTCOM targeting strategy part of a United States alliance with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia? KSA financed ISIS from the start as part of a Wahhabi/Salafi religious war against the secular Ba'athists and the Alawite tribe who are Shi'ia.
"Alliance" might be a generous description. Roots of influence, here, go more to bribery than geopolitics. Throwing money into the American political system has been a big deal for the Oil States for decades.
Flying at 2% of available capacity generates blast images. This is not damaging ISIS significantly. These attacks are pin pricks. ISIS is able to recruit low-skill fighters and the suicide freaks fast enough to replace their losses.
The people of Syria and Iraq can expect to be killed in large numbers and for the Syrians, certainly, for years moving forward.
Is this what America wants?
Going at 2% is good for Perpetual War. For keeping things going. Good for the war budget, for the types of War Biz stocks owned by the Carlyle Group and their friends among the sheiks. Harry Truman proved it during WW II: there's big bucks to be made with war profiteering.
Based on the pattern of airstrikes, CENTCOM is doing nothing to crush the big ISIS attacks. Same for doing nothing to provide timely intel on ISIS attack group movements to what are anti-Islamist allies.
ISF had tanks and mobile cannons ready to go in Ramadi. They could have responded with power. Thing was, they depended on the United States for aerial surveillance in Anbar Province. Drones spotted the ISIS suicide attack bulldozers and trucks at the staging area, but no word was relayed to the Iraqis.
Iraqi Security Force defenders lost 15 to the 1-ton suicide bombs, then another 45 to a super-bomb 15,000-pound explosion. Twice the power of the Oklahoma City bomb from 1995 that demolished the Murrah office building. The defenders had delayed the attack long enough for the office workers to make an orderly escape. ISIS set off ten of these blockbusters in Ramadi during the attack.
Let's look at what U.S. Central Command has to throw at ISIS.
Back in 2003 our military counted aerial sorties as individual "wheels up" takeoffs. That's where the "800 sorties a day" figure comes from. Today the U.S. Air Force has an additional 500 combat-ready drones. If we count each attack on a target individually, today's resources can hit 1,500 targets against a no-airpower enemy in a 24-hour day.
Geography is not the limit.
An all-out attack on ISIS would have impacts similar to what happened to Saddam's army. As you can see from the logs, intensity in Syria lessened in the last two weeks of May.
If this action was being fought as a war, CENTCOM would cooperate with the local anti-Islamist operations. At the very least these locals can do contact spotting. Pick out targets. As things sit today, there is no such program; either U.S. Special Forces or drones find targets or airstrikes don't happen.
Helluva way to fight a war.
Here is what ISIS/DAESH territory looks like based on U.S. Department of Defense/Institute for the Study of War information updated with recent coalition boards for northern Iraq:
- - - -
The dark blob between Baiji and Kirkuk represents a 1,500 fighter pocket of foreign volunteers. I see them as stragglers. They are the survivors from two large attack groups that came south out of Mosul in June of 2014. Between the two groups they lost battles at Samarra, Amerli, Diyalah Province, and Tikrit.
To repeat: that's 1,500 left from an original force of 7,000. Typical ISIS: 80 IQ and semi-literate at best. Psychos or too dumb to tell the difference.
On a geo map that is the Little Zeb River basin. LOLZ.
Depends where you are but "zeb" taken over to Arabic is slang for "cock." One can guess that ISIS/DAESH is infiltrated so putting people there was sabotage. What's could be more humiliating for tribal primitives than getting wiped out at "little prick" ?
A Lot has Changed
America has been fighting in Iraq for quite a while now. The enemy in 2015 is not Saddam Hussein. He was a monster, no question about that. From the killing fields in Iraq it looks like he had 600,000 people murdered. If anything, more.
Yet from what we know about ISIS over the past year, if they get a dozen years in power running most of Syria and pulling attacks in Iraq they will kill twice as many people than Saddam.
Monsters are monsters are monsters.
This is not what Americans like to tolerate. But crazy things happen. We had Dick Cheney over there glad-handing Saddam. We had John McCain in Syria all huggy-kissy with Muslim Brotherhood thugs two years ago. People who are allies with ISIS. You have to know that someone at Defense or State would see these monsters for what they are.
Our involvement in Iraq was a disaster. Between 2003 and 2014 some 4,491 U.S. service members were killed in Iraq. More civilians died counting Total Extra Deaths from all causes than Saddam had murdered. A conservative estimate: 1,455,000.
We know the enemy. ISIS/DAESH presents as a cross-section of the Muslim world's psychopaths. That is what you get based on the profile for ISIS/DAESH recruits. Total Extra Deaths for Syria and Iraq are running above 10,000 people a month. A third of that is hands-on murders. With rare exceptions the victims match military slang as "towel heads," "BMOs," "hajjies," "sand niggers," whatever -- apparently not White enough and not American enough to force CENTCOM to get beyond its current 2% levels of effort.
Imagine if ISIS invaded Israel....
Green or Brown?
It's hard on Kermit being green. We learn that from Sesame Street, right?.
But you want to think twice, three times, go for a dozen before you want to be any shade of brown in a war zone run out of CENTCOM. Half of Syria is a functioning Safe Zone for ISIS.
You can tell what people believe by what they do. Is that right?
Well, I can't. Not here.
I can't make sense of it. If the government of the United States wanted to attack the Syrian government, why not just bomb the Syrian government?
The Saudis pay enough money out in bribes and commercial deals to get a little Shock and Awe dropped on Damascus. Why should that be a problem?
Pecking away with a dozen, two dozen airstrikes a day does not look like fighting a war. Not to me.
Addendum: a consideration of the Ramadi battle is pasted on below the fold. Also a sidebar on CENTCOM and where they publish their logs as news items.