More Planes Than Targets: Why the Air War on ISIS Will Fail


Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, speaks to RAF personnel in Cyprus (photo: Reuters)
Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, speaks to RAF personnel in Cyprus (photo: Reuters)

 

Patrick Cockburn | CounterPunch | Reader Supported News | Deecember 6, 2015

ritain has now joined a US-led campaign to weaken and ultimately defeat Isis in which air power is very much the dominant component. The British contribution will not make much difference because there are already far more aircraft available than there are identifiable targets.

The coalition has conducted 59,015 sorties in Iraq and Syria starting in August 2014, of which only 8,573 have resulted in air strikes, indicating that the great majority of planes return to their bases without having used their weapons.

Even if Britain’s role is symbolic at this stage, it has joined a very real war against an enemy of great ferocity and experience, not least of air attacks. The highly informed Turkish military analyst Metin Gurcan, writing on Al-Monitor website, says that air strikes may have been effective against Isis communications and training facilities, but adds that “it is extraordinary that there is not a single [Isis] control facility that has been hit by allied air strikes”.

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