The Washington Free Beacon is reporting that U.S. military pilots fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq were blocked from dropping 75 percent of their ordnance on terror targets because the Obama administration would not give clearance to launch a strike.
Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stated that strikes against ISIS targets are often blocked due to the administration policy of avoiding civilian deaths and collateral damage, a policy that is being blamed for allowing the militants to gain momentum and continue waging terrorist attacks throughout the region and beyond. Royce said,
“You went 12 full months while ISIS was on the march without the U.S. using that air power and now as the pilots come back to talk to us they say three-quarters of our ordnance we can’t drop, we can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target in front of us. I don’t understand this strategy at all because this is what has allowed ISIS the advantage and ability to recruit.”
A Pentagon official responded by defending the administration’s policy by saying that the military is working to prevent civilian casualties: “The bottom line is that we will not stoop to the level of our enemy and put civilians more in harm’s way than absolutely necessary":
“The fact that aircraft go on missions and don’t strike anything is not out of the norm. Despite U.S. strikes being the most precise in the history of warfare, conducting strike operations in the heavily populated areas where ISIL hides certainly presents challenges. We are fighting an enemy who goes out of their way to put civilians at risk. However, our pilots understand the need for the tactical patience in this environment. This fight against ISIL is not the kind of fight from previous decades.”
Retired four-star U.S. General Jack Keane agreed with Royce’s assessment and blamed Obama for severely constraining the U.S. military from combating terror forces:
“This has been an absurdity from the beginning. The president personally made a statement that has driven air power from the inception. When we agreed we were going to do air power and the military said, this is how it would work, [Obama] said, ‘No, I do not want any civilian casualties.’ And the response was, ‘But there’s always some civilian casualties. We have the best capability in the world to protect from civilian casualties.’”
But Obama’s response was, “No, you don’t understand. I want no civilian casualties. Zero,’” Keane continued. “So that has driven our so-called rules of engagement to a degree we have never had in any previous air campaign from desert storm to the present.”
Keane cited statistics published earlier this year by U.S. Central Command showing that our pilots are returning from sorties in Iraq with about 75 percent of their ordnance unexpended.
“Believe me,” Keane added, “the French are in there not using the restrictions we have imposed on our pilots.” And the same goes for Russians, he said, adding, “They don’t care at all about civilians.”
France has dropped at least 20 bombs on key Islamic State targets within two days after the terror attacks in Paris, reports the Beacon, and killed at least 33 militants.
Some experts are questioning whether the administration is handing off portions of the battle to other nations. Jonathan Schanzer, former terrorism expert at the U.S. Treasury Department, said, “It appears that the U.S. is simply allowing France to strike many of the targets that would usually be reserved for the U.S. and some of its coalition allies.”
Way to lead the fight against ISIS, Obama.