Saturday September 20, 2014
President Obama’s strategy to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS depends crucially on precision bombing by drones and airplanes. The heavy lifting on the ground is supposed to be accomplished by our "allies" in Iraq and the Syrian opposition, but as any reader of the news knows, these allies are, to put it charitably, unreliable and prone to panic and/or treachery. So, despite Obama’s rhetoric, our new war against ISIS will be an air power war.
The key ideas in Obama's bombing strategy will be the identification and killing of ISIS leadership targets and the disruption/destruction of coherent ISIS ground operations with precision weapons. That target identification task is likely to be done by small numbers of US forces working with our supposed allies. This plan is a prescription for disaster.
The seductive idea of victory through airpower alone is not a new one, and Obama has fallen for a modern improv of an old score — no doubt, in part, for domestic political reasons. The background music was conceived and advocated in the 1930s by a small group of officers in the Army Air Corps based in the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, near Montgomery, Alabama.