Another slide into some kind of whirlwind war zone once again, the odds are slowly being upped for more American flesh being put on the line in Iraq.
Not yet ‘boots on the ground,’ but how’s the feel of ‘boots in the air.’
Via Mcclatchy this evening: The United States sent attack helicopters into combat against Islamic State targets west of Baghdad on Sunday, the first time low-flying Army aircraft have been committed to fighting in an engagement that the Obama administration has promised would not include “boots on the ground.”
(Illustration found here).
According to McClatchy, the choppers are most-likely AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, out of Baghdad International Airport.
Jeffrey White, a former senior Defense Intelligence Agency analyst: “It’s definitely boots in the air. This is combat, assuming U.S. Army guys were flying the helicopters. Using helicopter gunships in combat operations means those forces are in combat.”
The Apache squadron was deployed to Iraq last June, supposedly to protect American interests at the airport and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
Creep by creep:
Although the administration has repeatedly said that no “ground forces” would be used in the fight against the Islamic State, the use of the AH-64 represents a blurring of that promise.
The helicopters carry a two-man crew and with their missiles and powerful canon, increase the amount and accuracy of the firepower that the U.S. military can bring to bear against the Islamic State in support of Iraqi ground troops.
But because helicopters fly relatively “low and slow,” the Obama administration is taking on greater risk in terms of exposing U.S. forces to casualties, White said.
“The Iraqi air force just lost a brand new Russian helicopter (to Islamic State ground fire). So it’s significantly higher risk for whoever is flying the mission,” said White.
“It’s certainly crossing another threshold. The U.S. is conducting strikes that are directly involved in combat.”
And reportedly ISIS has taken Abu Ghraib, about 25 miles from Baghdad, and the protected, precious airport within range of their US-made artillery. The creeping walls coming falling down — already reports that weeks of US air strikes aren’t budging those ISIS assholes in Iraq, even if so, bombing alone just won’t cut it, you need them boots on the ground, not in the air, to be successful.
Via Newsweek last Wednesday:
Lord Richards, who retired last year as chief of the defence staff – Britain’s most senior soldier – has said much the same thing.
“Ultimately you need a land army to achieve the objectives we’ve set ourselves – all air strikes will do is destroy elements of Isis, it won’t achieve our strategic goal.
“The only way to defeat Isis is to take back land they are occupying which means a conventional military operation. The only way to do it effectively is to use Western armies, but I do understand the political resistance.”
Richards said the war could ‘go on forever’ unless a 100,000-strong army can be trained and deployed.
A tingling sound, a tiny tiptoe of boots in the near distance.