‘’The political climate at home may force a decrease in the number
of U.S. troops in Iraq, but the compensatory upswing in air power meant to
offset this will be inevitable and will inevitably lead to unexpected problems.
Why? Because the Bush administration will still be committed to permanently
hanging onto a crucial group of four or five mega-military bases (into which
billions of construction and communications dollars have already been poured)
along with a massive embassy, directing political and military ‘’traffic’’
from the heart of Baghdad’s Green Zone – and that means an unending
occupation of Iraq, something that, air power or no, can only mean endless
[Posted By ShiftShapers]
By Bradley Graham
Republished from The Washington Post
US airstrikes in Iraq have surged this fall, jumping to nearly five
times the average monthly rate earlier in the year, according to US military
Until the end of August, US warplanes were conducting about 25 strikes a month.
The number rose to 62 in September, then to 122 in October and 120 in November.
Several US officers involved in operations in Iraq attributed much of the increase
to a series of ground offensives in western Anbar province. Those offensives,
conducted by US Marines and Iraqi forces, were aimed at clearing foreign fighters
and other insurgents from the Euphrates River Valley and establishing Iraqi
control over the Syrian border area.
But Air Force Maj. Gen. Allen G. Peck, deputy commander of the US air operations
center in the region, said the higher strike numbers also reflected more aggressive
military operations in other parts of Iraq that were undertaken to improve security
for last week’s national elections.
“I’m hard-pressed to provide a single definitive explanation for
the increase,” Peck said in a telephone interview.
For most airstrikes in Iraq, US crews have been employing 500-pound, precision-guided
bombs rather than the 1,000- or 2,000-pound versions used in past conflicts,
Peck said. The smaller bombs are intended to reduce the potential for collateral
In limited cases, the 100-pound Hellfire missile is used. “It won’t
knock down a house, but it can be effective in taking out a car,” Peck
With the Pentagon preparing to reduce the level of US ground forces in Iraq
next year, some defense experts have speculated that US airpower will be used
more intensively to support operations by Iraq’s fledgling security forces
and protect US advisers embedded with them. Indeed, American commanders have