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DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« on: June 16, 2014, 05:20:04 PM »
http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=BA238E85-EA9F-4F88-9E40-916D001F5B63

 DOD has wide array of Iraq options
By: Philip Ewing
June 16, 2014 02:22 PM EDT

President Barack Obama has an impressive amount of firepower at his disposal as he weighs his options for helping beat back Islamist fighters in Iraq. The tough question is how he should use it — if at all.

At least four U.S. Navy warships are operating in the Persian Gulf on Monday, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a cruiser and a destroyer. Plus the Air Force has drones and many other aircraft on station in the region, too, both for surveillance and firepower.

The latest addition in the Gulf is the amphibious transport USS Mesa Verde, carrying about 360 sailors and 700 Marines, heavy helicopters and MV-22 tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft.

“Its presence in the Gulf adds to that of other U.S. naval ships already there — including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush — and provides the commander in chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them,” said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

But having options to deliver “effects,” as American commanders like to say, has never been the most difficult problem for the military in the latter-day Middle East. The challenge is determining what to reach out and touch — and whether doing so would make any difference.



The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which swept across northern Iraq last week and captured several key cities, is not a convenient Soviet-style armored corps — or, for that matter, the Iraqi army or Republican Guard formations the U.S. has destroyed in the past. ISIS doesn’t have orderly rows of tanks, armored personnel carriers, fuel trucks and other classic military targets to destroy. Instead, by all appearances, it’s largely a group of men with rifles riding in pickup trucks.

The Pentagon would be charged with reversing the “momentum” of the group, Kirby said on Friday — if Obama decides to give that order. Defense officials will not, however, say what exactly it would mean to reverse its momentum. Stop it for a week? Stop it for good? Turn ISIS back and help Iraq’s government retake the captured cities?

Answering that question — defining the objectives of any military action — is the first job for the White House and the Pentagon.



Next is actually drawing up the plans of attack, but that isn’t any simpler. In plotting potential airstrikes on ISIS-held positions, American planners confront the same kinds of frustrations that have made the past decade of war so difficult in both Iraq and Afghanistan. An enemy without uniforms or much heavy equipment can hide in plain sight among civilians in populated areas.

Moreover, given the days’ worth of warnings about potential American action, ISIS elements could become so diffuse that by the time Navy warplanes or cruise missiles were on their way, no individual airstrike might do that much good.

There’s no question, however, that American strike planners do have a few aces to play. One is the presence of high- and medium-altitude reconnaissance drones, flights of which have “intensified” since the ISIS offensive last week, the Pentagon said.

Aircraft such as the MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper let American commanders watch nearly whoever they want, in real time. If the U.S. can locate key ISIS commanders and keep tabs on them until Obama decides to act, the Americans could try to decapitate the leading elements of the ISIS force and sow fear and confusion among the terrorist fighters.



Another potential ace is the presence of the carrier George H.W. Bush. If ISIS tried again to move out in force, the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 8 could prey on its leading edges, harassing them and degrading them enough to improve the chances for Iraq’s army and the paramilitary forces — including some from Iran — said to be prepared to try to protect Baghdad.

Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged to Yahoo News on Monday that airstrikes aren’t “the whole answer” to defeating ISIS, but that they’re “one of the options” Obama is considering.

American air power could at least deny ISIS the ability to concentrate fighters and move in large numbers, Kerry said. “You can’t just let them run whole hog over the country, for a number of reasons.” he said.

Another problem is that while the Navy’s strike aircraft could likely destroy anything their target set, huge sections of the Iraqi military have already broken before the ISIS fighters. So there is no guarantee they could exploit the American top cover. Officials in Washington have been withering in their criticism of the Iraqi troops’ performance.

“I’m not gonna be cute about it,” Kirby said Friday. “I mean, we’re certainly disappointed by the performance of some Iraqi force units with respect to the challenges that they have faced in the last few days.”

Obama has ruled out sending American ground troops back into Iraq, with the exception of the small number of troops and Defense Department workers who are part of the normal military delegation to Baghdad. That could change — briefly — if Marines from the amphibious transport USS Mesa Verde have to help evacuate the U.S. Embassy if ISIS seriously threatens Baghdad.

American defense contractors say they’re evacuating their workers who help Iraq with its U.S. military equipment, among other tasks, although they declined to detail how many people have gone and how many could remain.

Officials in Washington also have been keen to stress that they’ve stepped up military assistance to Baghdad, but so far that has mostly included ammunition and about 300 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. The Pentagon says it wants to expedite a sale and lease deal for Boeing-built AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, but officials gave no clue Monday about when those aircraft could actually arrive. There’s also no telling how quickly Iraqi pilots could put such helicopters into action once they did get into their arsenal.

So Obama’s short-term menu of military options may consist mostly of airstrikes by drones, human-piloted aircraft or cruise missiles. Once the smoke cleared from any potential American air operations, however, the basic problems would remain.

Portions of Syria and Iraq would likely remain lawless stretches where Islamic extremists roam freely. The government of Iraqi President Nouri al Maliki would still have to try to reconcile its feuding populations — in the context of a regional Sunni-Shiite religious war in which no side sees any incentive to compromise.

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Offline Chieftain

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 06:12:43 PM »
1.  Obama has already ruled out "boots on the ground" so the presence of Marines is pointless.

2.  The Naval presence in the Gulf is more likely to help evacuate some of the 200,000 Americans still in the country.

3.  Random air and drone strikes will do little more than irritate these guys.  You can't just piss on 'em, you need to give them the boot...and Obama is the least qualified and most unwilling guy to do that.

4.  Obama already pronounced this war over, and assured us all that the tide of war was receding.  To do anything about Iraq would require admission of the failure of the Obama Doctrine.

5.  Just because DOD has a capability does not mean Obama understands it, or is qualified to use it. 

6.  Who in the White House is going to plan these operations??  Susan Rice??

This is all show.  High flame, low BTUs.....

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 06:18:31 PM »
1.  Obama has already ruled out "boots on the ground" so the presence of Marines is pointless.

2.  The Naval presence in the Gulf is more likely to help evacuate some of the 200,000 Americans still in the country.

3.  Random air and drone strikes will do little more than irritate these guys.  You can't just piss on 'em, you need to give them the boot...and Obama is the least qualified and most unwilling guy to do that.

4.  Obama already pronounced this war over, and assured us all that the tide of war was receding.  To do anything about Iraq would require admission of the failure of the Obama Doctrine.

5.  Just because DOD has a capability does not mean Obama understands it, or is qualified to use it. 

6.  Who in the White House is going to plan these operations??  Susan Rice??

This is all show.  High flame, low BTUs.....

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 06:38:50 PM »
The DOD may have many options........But this is the outcome obama wants.


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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 06:40:22 PM »
Aside from getting Americans and other allies out, what would be the point of helping?

In Mosul 10,000 Iraqi troops ran away from a fight with 800 opposing terrorist forces.

With that lack of discipline, after all the treasure we spent to train these losers, again I say what is the point?

Or stated another way, don't throw good money after bad.

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 11:38:21 PM »
Chief pretty much nailed it. It's mostly for show.

One thing it does show is that the State dept is still sitting there with their pants down. Our Foreign Office makes sure that every UK national who goes to work in an unstable country has a minimum of two extraction plans and keeps in touch with the Embassy several times per week. Nothing much, just an email usually, or a quick phone call.

As to TS' asking what would the point be: It's far safer and easier to get rid of a hornet's nest while it is small and before the grubs hatch. Right now, the Islamic State is small and disrupted by fighting both an internal and external war. They are tough fighters, mostly highly experienced, but there simply are not that many of them yet.
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2014, 12:06:33 AM »
I vote for carpet bombing with B-52s.
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2014, 12:17:15 AM »
Carpet bombing is ineffectual.

Take Dresden. It's a legend in bomber circles, 2 days, 1500 bombers flying around the clock - and out of a population of 1.2 million, 25,000 people were killed. The rest were just mightily pissed off.

A quarter of a million people survived Nagasaki. Hell, one guy, a Mr Yamaguchi, survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Probably the luckiest guy in the universe - or unluckiest, depending on your viewpoint.
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2014, 12:20:05 AM »
Carpet bombing is ineffectual.

Take Dresden. It's a legend in bomber circles, 2 days, 1500 bombers flying around the clock - and out of a population of 1.2 million, 25,000 people were killed. The rest were just mightily pissed off.

A quarter of a million people survived Nagasaki. Hell, one guy, a Mr Yamaguchi, survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Probably the luckiest guy in the universe - or unluckiest, depending on your viewpoint.

There may be civilians mixed in those bombing raids and being used as human shields.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 12:20:46 AM by Trigger »

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2014, 12:21:45 AM »
There may be civilians mixed in those bombing raids and being used as human shields.

You would need a person on the ground radioing or hi lighting the target with a laser instructions to the plane as to where the enemy is located. We give the longitude and latitude of the targets. Remember when those soldiers in Afganistan gave the wrong set of coordinates to the B-1 crew and it lead to a friendly fire incident. The Israelis uses a laser to paint on the ground on the target before dropping the bomb on the target to minimize collateral damage.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 12:32:00 AM by Trigger »

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2014, 12:34:30 AM »
You are going to have colats, no matter what. Bombs are not hugely accurate, even with designators on the ground. The range of a laser designator that can be easily concealed on your person is roughly 80 feet, which puts the person holding the designator comfortably inside the 50% destruction radius of most bombs.

The Israelis use smaller missiles with a total destruction radius of about 20 feet, and 50% destruction out to 60 feet.

Sure, cruise missiles are pretty accurate, but how many millions are you willing to spend?
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2014, 12:46:20 AM »
You are going to have colats, no matter what. Bombs are not hugely accurate, even with designators on the ground. The range of a laser designator that can be easily concealed on your person is roughly 80 feet, which puts the person holding the designator comfortably inside the 50% destruction radius of most bombs.

The Israelis use smaller missiles with a total destruction radius of about 20 feet, and 50% destruction out to 60 feet.

Sure, cruise missiles are pretty accurate, but how many millions are you willing to spend?


IAI's Missiles' proven guidance technology assures pin-point accuracy and high lethality

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2014, 01:06:36 AM »

IAI's Missiles' proven guidance technology assures pin-point accuracy and high lethality

Oh, they are certainly lethal. Used more than a few of them and I like them a lot (I like anything that keeps my blood inside my skin where it belongs a lot). Accuracy varies, depending on launch platform, the presence of a designator and if you are trying not to get shot out of the sky, but is usually in the sub 1 meter range.

It's down to the IAI's ethos. They look at any tech they can get hold of, pick what works well, and make it work better for less money. Always wondered what would happen if Israel and China got into a full alliance. China can build anything from one example, but they are not so hot at innovation. Israel is all about innovation.
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2014, 02:01:19 AM »
Oh, they are certainly lethal. Used more than a few of them and I like them a lot (I like anything that keeps my blood inside my skin where it belongs a lot). Accuracy varies, depending on launch platform, the presence of a designator and if you are trying not to get shot out of the sky, but is usually in the sub 1 meter range.

It's down to the IAI's ethos. They look at any tech they can get hold of, pick what works well, and make it work better for less money. Always wondered what would happen if Israel and China got into a full alliance. China can build anything from one example, but they are not so hot at innovation. Israel is all about innovation.

It's no use trying to explain things to those who THINK they know what's going on but, in reality, haven't even the most remote clue!

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2014, 02:03:43 AM »
It's no use trying to explain things to those who THINK they know what's going on but, in reality, haven't even the most remote clue!

EC is correct. They would take an idea that would not work and they will make it work. That is why they have the best technology at the cheapest price. Iron Dome comes to mind.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 02:04:19 AM by Trigger »

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2014, 02:07:37 AM »
EC is correct. They would take an idea that would not work and they will make it work. That is why they have the best technology at the cheapest price. Iron Dome comes to mind.

No more constant sirens for people to go into their air raid shelter.

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2014, 02:08:30 AM »
One thing it does show is that the State dept is still sitting there with their pants down.

Which, according to my 40+ years worth of observation, is pretty much their usual status!

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2014, 02:17:37 AM »
Which, according to my 40+ years worth of observation, is pretty much their usual status!

Brother - you ever met a Statie who could find their backside with both hands, a flashlight and a GPS?

Met one once. The shock took years to get over!  :laugh:
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2014, 02:21:30 AM »
Brother - you ever met a Statie who could find their backside with both hands, a flashlight and a GPS?

Met one once. The shock took years to get over!  :laugh:

I'll bet I can tell you two things about that person you met and I don't even know who it was!

1. He or she was a recent transfer from some other department and

2. he didn't last long at state!

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2014, 02:26:36 AM »
Right on both counts.  :laugh:

He's doing something useful now. Ex- Ranger. We keep in touch.
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2014, 02:29:46 AM »
Right on both counts.  :laugh:

He's doing something useful now. Ex- Ranger. We keep in touch.

That's good to know! The staties would have ground him into dust in short order!

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #21 on: June 17, 2014, 02:32:59 AM »
That's good to know! The staties would have ground him into dust in short order!

 :beer:

Poor guy fit in there like a cross at a vampire convention.  :beer:
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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #22 on: June 17, 2014, 02:41:42 AM »
Poor guy fit in there like a cross at a vampire convention.  :beer:

Oh I'm sure!  :beer:

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #23 on: June 17, 2014, 10:34:48 PM »
I doubt it matters how many thousands of tons of bombs we drop on Iraq now.

That battle, and that country, is lost. That's the real "shock and awe" that a lot of folks here must face.

Whatever scores remain there to be settled, it's up to them to do it themselves.

Just get all the Americans out of there, and let 'em have at it...
« Last Edit: June 17, 2014, 10:35:33 PM by Fishrrman »

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Re: DOD has wide array of Iraq options
« Reply #24 on: June 17, 2014, 11:33:09 PM »
Carpet bombing is ineffectual.

Take Dresden. It's a legend in bomber circles, 2 days, 1500 bombers flying around the clock - and out of a population of 1.2 million, 25,000 people were killed. The rest were just mightily pissed off.

A quarter of a million people survived Nagasaki. Hell, one guy, a Mr Yamaguchi, survived both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Probably the luckiest guy in the universe - or unluckiest, depending on your viewpoint.

Yes, I know all about the strategic bombing in WWII.  My thesis for my BA in history was on the use of nuclear weapons in WWII.  For my MA, it was on the conventional strategic bombing campaign against both Germany and Japan.
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