From: Secret Underground Lair
The air war against the Islamic State is politically effective. The President has stated publicly at least twice that he doesn't have a plan to defeat the IS, with air power or otherwise. This Administration will continue to report launching hundreds of air strikes and skip the part where most do not even engage the enemy due to possible civilian casualties. The strategy so far is that the IS takes a city, loots the banks, butchers non-Sunnis, enslaves the women and destroys historical and religious shrines. We bomb the city until the Iraqi forces with the help of the Administration's new friend Iran (the #1 state sponsor of terror) can retake it. Then the IS takes another city and the strategy continues.
We are supposed to be saving the people of Syria and Iraq from about 30k IS combatants. If this force occupied Hawaii, no one would advocate sending in 100 B-52s to bomb the state flat. This is really not an option. Short of that, surgical air strikes to slowly wear down the IS are severely hampered. If we blow up oil wells that provide the enemy with black market petro-dollars, then we create an environmental disaster. Our own intel people have reported that when we bomb one IS commander, then he is rapidly replaced with another thug who is even more brutal in order to justify his promotion. These air strikes to prune IS leaders are simply using Darwinism to evolve the most brutal IS leadership and otherwise have little effect. Indescriminately bombing populated areas with the reasoning that some IS fighters would be killed along with the civilians would recruit more fanatics than we would remove. Remember that the citizens of Aleppo are rebels as far as Assad is concerned. That's why the Russian bombing strategy makes no distinction about the civilians. This is an autocracy making an example to coerce other rebel cities to submit. The Assad regime is essentially a death cult, survive or die, with no concern for long term consequences.
Overall, if IS combatants are using mortars to win a battle and tactical airpower can take out the mortars, then airpower is immediately effective...as long as friendly ground troops win said battle. I told my soldiers a quarter century ago that Iraq would eventually become Little Iran, Sunniland and Kurdistan. This is essentially the case now. Shiite forces aren't going to die to liberate Sunnis. The Kurds our bombers are helping fight IS terror are also being bombed by our NATO ally Turkey because they are a base for Kurdish terrorists in that country. Sunnis are most likely not going to get much help from us, because the Administration's new friend Iran wouldn't want that. Thus airpower cannot be militarily effective without a combined arms strategy for victory. Syria and Iraq are failed states where IS bases can train recruits that have already spread cells to many other countries in the region. These cells will exploit the continuing chaos of the "Arab Spring" to gain new bases and more recruits. Bombing Syria and Iraq won't affect that.
Well said Poopyhead +1. Its not easy, and certainly not as rosy as the politicians seem to like to imply. Just once, I'd like to hear one of them say "Well this whole thing is a real **** swirl and there really isn't squat we can do about it unless the majority of citizens in the West are ready to commit to decades of all out war and occupation . . ." I suppose there is one candidate who might be so glib . . . if he wasn't ranting about building walls
One question though: do you reckon that the "30,000" combatants figure is accurate? There seems to be a huge range in those estimates and given what I know about the demographics of the Sunni world (mostly isolated pockets who feel they are under siege by either the West or Shia, and with disproportionate numbers of younger and disenfranchised people [most notably the ones with testicles dangling between their legs]) I would think that IS would be pretty appealing to a sizeable fraction of that population, which makes me willing to consider the higher estimates as having some plausibility.
Can intell methods produce decent empirical estimates on these sorts of things? I find that surprising, given there are covert IS cells [tiny perhaps, but they must have sizeable numbers of "collaborators" supporting them in some communities?] apparently operating throughout many nations.