Obama blocks U.S. pilots from bombing ISIS; Iranian fighters escort Russian bombers

Interesting times.

USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing (RAF Lakenheath) arrives at Incirlik in Nov 2015. (Image: USAF, Tech Sgt. Taylor Worley)
USAF F-15E Strike Eagle from the 48th Fighter Wing (RAF Lakenheath) arrives at Incirlik in Nov 2015. (Image: USAF, Tech Sgt. Taylor Worley)

It’s essential to have the big picture on this.  The war in Syria is turning into something bigger, with substantially bigger implications than what happens to ISIS.

But ISIS remains the handy pretext for Russia’s and Iran’s growing intervention in both Syria and Iraq.  That intervention is changing their posture, and the correlation of both military and political forces across the region, almost by the day.  They are not there for ISIS, and they’re not there for Assad.  They’re there – putting down stakes from the Caspian and the Caucasus to the Horn of Africa – because they intend to be in charge of carving up the rapidly fragmenting ruins of the post-World War I Middle East.

ISIS will get something of a vote in this conflict.  But America won’t.  The reason for these two realities is that Obama has limited the use of U.S. force – limited it to such an extent that ISIS is still a very viable entity.  Obama’s “restraint” is also the reason Russia and Iran keep having ISIS as a handy, open-ended pretext for arranging to occupy Iraq and Syria.  Which is what they’re actually doing.

Obama has in fact restrained the use of U.S. force to an unnatural degree.  We’ve known for a while now that 75% of the strike sorties flown against ISIS by our aircraft return to base without bombing anything.  U.S. Central Command reported that in operational statistics months ago, and it was picked up by stateside media as early as May 2015. Continue reading “Obama blocks U.S. pilots from bombing ISIS; Iranian fighters escort Russian bombers”

USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) – (Almost) home at last

Homecoming.

 

USS George H.W. Bush (foreground) and USS Harry S Truman turn over duties in the Gulf of Aden in March 2014. (DOD image)
USS George H.W. Bush (foreground) and USS Harry S Truman turn over duties in the Gulf of Aden in March 2014. (DOD image)

There’s been a weary sense of quiet — if a busy and edgy quiet — on USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) for the last few hours.  The air wing has flown off.  The deployment, which started in July 2013, and for which Truman has maintained full readiness since February 2013, is almost over.  Truman is scheduled to arrive at the carrier piers in Norfolk, VA at 10:00 AM Eastern time. Continue reading “USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) – (Almost) home at last”

‘Five carriers’ photo was in 2012 and it was no big deal

Everybody calm down.

 

Eighth wonder of the world, check.  Breach of national security - not so much.
Eighth wonder of the world, check. Breach of national security – not so much.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this in the last week, so I’m running a short post on it to see if the wild rumors can be laid to rest.

About a year ago, someone began circulating a photo of five aircraft carriers all in port at the same time at the Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia.  The claim was that the carriers had just been ordered into port for some purpose the Navy didn’t understand, Continue reading “‘Five carriers’ photo was in 2012 and it was no big deal”

Ukraine update: Russia prepares the battle space

Peace in our time.

Things are proceeding about as I expected in Ukraine, and in terms of Putin’s posture.

Readers will have heard about the Russian military exercise launched in the Western Military District involving “150,000 troops.”  That’s a lot of troops, but I very much doubt they are all headed for Russia’s border with Ukraine.  I do expect a build-up on that border, but something on the order of 20,000-30,000 is more like it, and it may not be that many.  The 150,000 troops are, in any case, mostly stationed in western Russia to begin with.  Some, especially elements like special forces, aviation, and missile units, will probably deploy from elsewhere to augment the Western Military District’s permanently stationed units.

Russia establishes a beachhead Continue reading “Ukraine update: Russia prepares the battle space”

Rock, hard place, Syria

Force depth: all gone.

Through his latest action, calling for a vote of Congress on a strike against the Assad regime – but not trying to make it happen quickly – Obama has crystallized the Syria dilemma to the fullest extent.

It is no longer necessary to predict that failure to make good on his promise about a “red line” will be fatal to American credibility.  The die is cast.  We have reached the limit of fate’s tolerance for indecision, and the verdict is in: Obama, and the West, couldn’t handle this one.

But hold that thought for a moment – call it the rock in this scenario – and let us consider the hard place, which has its own argument to make.  Those who have continued to press for a military response in Syria seem not to understand that the situation of the U.S. military is severely compromised, due to the very real effects of not spending on readiness.  We literally do not have the forces available to expand on any limited strikes we might undertake. Continue reading “Rock, hard place, Syria”