Air Force Pilots Say They're Flying Blind Against ISIS
Obama’s no-boots-on-the-ground pledge is keeping America from fighting an effective air campaign in Iraq and Syria.
Within the U.S. Air Force, there’s mounting frustration that the air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq is moving far more slowly than expected. Instead of a fast-moving operation with hundreds of sorties flown in a single day—the kind favored by many in the air service—American warplanes are hitting small numbers of targets after a painstaking and cumbersome process.
The single biggest problem, current and former Air Force officers say, is the so-called kill-chain of properly identifying and making sure the right target is being attacked. At the moment, that process is very complicated and painfully slow.
“The kill-chain is very convoluted,” one combat-experienced Air Force A-10 Warthog pilot told The Daily Beast. “Nobody really has the control in the tactical environment.”
A major reason why: the lack of U.S. ground forces to direct American air power against ISIS positions. Air power, when it is applied in an area where the enemy is blended in with the civilian population, works best when there are troops on the ground who are able to call in strikes. From the sky, it can be hard to tell friend from foe. And by themselves, the GPS coordinates used to guide bombs aren’t nearly precise enough; landscape and weather can throw the coordinates off by as much as 500 feet. The planes need additional information from the guys on the ground. The only other option is to use laser-guided bombs, but even then the target has to be correctly indentified beforehand.http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/10/troops-grumbling-that-obama-s-air-war-against-isis-is-too-little-too-late.html