It turns out, even a desultory, half-hearted and micromanaged “attack” plan that runs a half-dozen one-ship sorties a day, can wear out gear and run down stockpiles. Who knew? None of the empty suits in the E-Ring, that’s for sure.
Here’s the target: typical ISIL military vehicle, a HMMWV, only driven once on Sunday by a little old Iraqi soldier to surrender, and now flying the black flag of Islam. Other typical targets include Ford and GM pickup tricks, also a benevolent gift from the US to the enemy via the nutless Iraqis.
And here’s the anatomy of a strike, in this case a September 2014 British Tornado IDS strike against a Ford pickup. First, we lock the target, after making it obvious enough what’s up that the jihadi driver parks the truck and runs for cover.
Next: FOOM. Couldn’t happen to a nicer truck, eh?
Assuming Hadji didn’t go up in the FOOM, he’s on his way to your neighborhood as a “refugee” now. Don’t forget to thank the President! And smoke rises over another Coalition victory.
Aftermath of an attack: Peshmerga fighters in Kurdish northern Iraq examine what’s left of a similar truck after a similar strike.
Problem is, we just spent somewhere between a half million and a million, and risked at least four aircrew lives, to engage an enemy that wouldn’t exist absent the power vacuum created by us bugging out, and to blow the living daylights out of a (probably empty) $25k truck.
And now we’re running low on the essential ingredients of FOOM.
The U.S. Air Force has fired off more than 20,000 missiles and bombs since the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS began 15 months ago, according to the Air Force, leading to depleted munitions stockpiles and calls to ramp up funding and weapons production.
Wow! Twenty thousand sure is a lot. Isn’t it? Or are we wrong about the old-man-in-a-walker crawling rate of sorties and the pinprick nature of these truck-busting attacks?
Well, mathematics has the answer, kids. Relax, we’re not going to be doing fast Fourier transforms here… instead, we’ll just do some maybe third-grade arithmetic, multiplication and the dreaded Long Division. We’ll do it in en cabeza; you can follow along with your calculators if you’re from the Tee Ball Participation Trophy generation.
20,000 is our first number, and the other is 15 months. Now, the average month has 30 point something days, but to keep it round, we’ll go with 30, which gives us 450 days’ of attack, which has so far beaten ISIL back from Syria and Iraq to Paris and San Bernardino. 20,000 divided by 450 is about 44… that’s our average ordnance drop per day in the “war” on ISIL.
As the U.S. ramps up its campaign against the Islamist terror group in Iraq and Syria, the Air Force is now “expending munitions faster than we can replenish them,” Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh said in a statement.
“B-1s have dropped bombs in record numbers. F-15Es are in the fight because they are able to employ a wide range of weapons and do so with great flexibility. We need the funding in place to ensure we’re prepared for the long fight,” Welsh said in the statement. “This is a critical need.”
The bombing campaign has left the U.S. Air Force with what an Air Force official described as munitions depot stocks “below our desired objective.”
Funny, that’s the way we feel about our .22LR stock, and we have two .22 rifles and one pistol. We’d like to shoot the pistol more, though. That’s probably what the Air Force fighter and bomber crews feel when they fly with empty pylons, multiple-ejector racks or internal stations because our political masters don’t want to bomb ISIL too much; just enough to “send a message.”
Funny, last time we used jets instead of Western Union to “send a message,” we ran out of bombs too, and we didn’t seem to get the message across to Ho Chi Minh, either.
Even though the Arc Light B-52 missions had priority for bombs over tactical air command fighters in theater, the USAF may have spent much of 1966 flying B-52 sorties with only a couple of bombs per plane apparently; the year’s average was 5,000 sorties and 8,000 bombs a month, according to official history. (It is possible that sorties that didn’t drop are counted also, which would skew the data). Still, Vietnam bombing is no great success to emulate today.
Like our defense suits today, Robert S. MacNamara denied the perilous state his own unrecognized incompetence had brought about, and blamed the critics who pointed out his shortcomings.
Let’s let go of that 50-year-old example, and go back to our CNN story:
The official told CNN that the Air Force has requested additional funding for Hellfire missiles and is developing plans to ramp up weapons production to replenish its stocks more quickly. But replenishing that stock can take “up to four years from time of expenditure to asset resupply,” the official said.
We hate to bring up other examples from a half-century ago, but since nobody in the E Ring seems to have heard of them, somebody has to do it. Later on in the Southeast Asia War Games, McNamara had built a high-tech wall of sensors and engaged the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN; NVA) with pinprick attacks, busting trucks on the Ho Chi Minh trail.
It was a mug’s game. The PAVN Central Office for South Vietnam had modest logistical requirements — about 6,000 pounds of cargo a day, so unless the Air Force could stop even two trucks’ worth of cargo from getting by the attacks, then the interdiction campaign was destined to fail.
Likewise, pinprick attacks on ISIL won’t work. ISIL needs to get the treatment Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan got, because it not only has to be beaten, it has to be so thoroughly beaten that everyone can see that it was beaten.
It’s amazing how many universities will turn loose a graduate in International Relations or even Strategy without any understanding of what victory conditions look like.
This is what victory looks like. Berlin, 1945, destroyed by Allied bombing, Soviet artillery and ground attack, and seized and divided under the angry boots of the occupying armies of four Powers. Defenders and citizens alike died, or were imprisoned de facto if not de jure. If you’re not envisioning something like this, you’re not envisioning victory; what you’re envisioning is some kind of stalemate at best, and it’s criminal to waste lives for it.
Academics and “public intellectuals,” civilian “strategists” in book-filled studies, and various bellicose commentators for whom war is always something the other guy did, do not get this; they neither understand it at an intellectual level, nor grasp it in the gut at a rhetorical level. Hence their lame “sending messages” and game theories of war.
The only message the military is equipped to send is, “Die, mother******.” Used within those parameters, it works. Nazis today exist only in pathetic prison gangs and in the shallow imaginations of Hollywood screenwriters, seeking villains that won’t offend Arab, Chinese or Russian audiences, and unwilling — so far — to remake Jude Süss. And slaveowners only exist any more where Islam holds sway.