Former CIA Director and retired General David Petraeus, who has commanded U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, gave an interview to Charlie Rose on CBS News this week where he talking about ISIS he said: "These are fights where if you're not winning, you're probably losing, because time is not on your side."
After the fall of Ramadi is there any doubt that we are not winning? Two weeks earlier, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing with military experts. One of those who testified was Gen. Jack Keane, a key architect of the successful Iraq surge in 2007 said: “We are not only failing, we are in fact losing this war. Moreover, I can say with certainty that this strategy will not defeat ISIS." Others at the hearing had similarly gloomy assessments of the current strategy as well as offering alternatives.
U.S. Bombers That Don't Bomb!
One of the biggest problems is that Obama's pinprick bombing strategy has so handcuffed pilots and military planners that of the few sorties that are sent out (a number far below any previous air campaign) 75% return without dropping ANY bombs!
Obama's rules of engagement are so constrained that obvious ISIS targets are not hit because of fear of civilian deaths. The New York Times reports that after the fall of Ramadi, ISIS fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets without any fear of American bombs. As the Times points out
"American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant, and obvious, Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians."Meanwhile, ISIS murders thousands of civilians in every city they capture. Off limits targets include the headquarters of ISIS in Raqqa Syria but they have never been bombed or attacked with ground forces.
Forward air controllers would help minimize civilian casualties but Obama fears what would happen to Americans if they were taken prisoner. But why hasn't Obama pursued opportunities to partner with other Arab nations who might take on that job? Or why not a trusted group of Iraqis?
The lack of urgency by Obama and the timidity of his strategy can only bring a negative result. On this 71st anniversary of D-Day it's useful to ponder what would happen if Obama were in charge on D-Day. My guess is that we'd be speaking German now!