Tag Archives: Economics

Airstrikes: Why?

Syria-IraqISIS is in an interesting position: they hold territory, and therefore have an infrastructure, logistics and operations network they need to maintain. It’s all well and good to get 500 Toyota trucks with .50 caliber machine guns on them to overrun a town. It’s quite another to fight the Syrian Army.

Between Raqqa (Al Raqqah on the map, in the top leftish area) and Mosul (top towards the right side), ISIS snagged huge stockpiles of weapons and ammunition. While it’s relatively easy for ISIS bring money into their boundaries to pay their foreign fighters $1,000 a month to $150 a day, it’s harder to get spare parts and maintenance gear into their area. And sure, they’ve got jets captured from Syria. Question is, how ready, after three years of war and sanctions against Syria, are these planes to get into the air? And do they have pilots with the skills to fight real air-to-ground engagements? Eliminating these stockpiles, including fuel depots, is the first of the one-two punch.

The second is command and control. If it’s got an antenna, kill it. Tanks, jeeps, buildings, cell towers. ISIS doesn’t have access to secure satellite communications. Kill the tranmitters, break communications. As you can see from the map, there’s lots of nothing between Raqqa and Mosul. That distance needs to be traversed for ISIS to act. If the Mosul commander wants to keep hitting targets up by the Turkish border (top of map) then they need to coordinate resupply of parts, ammo, fuel and people. The charge of the light (truck) brigade can’t happen if they’re out of bullets. Or gas (their refining abilities are limited to bad craft brewery operations: limited output and much poorer quality diesel and gas than larger commercial refineries. Assuming, of course, that the little refineries aren’t blown up as well.

So that’s the reason for the air war. However, not to flog a dead equine, the air strikes are essentially meaningless to breaking ISIS as a force. For that boots on the ground need to go house-to-house, weeding the ISIS chaff from the civilian wheat, throughout this double-damned part of the world.