Eagerly monitoring news of the first strikes against ISIS in Syria, I watched the CNN reporting and viewed the first Pentagon briefings….followed eventually by video of the first strikes. My initial reaction was “did nobody at Centcom take notes, they’re making the same mistake again, those buildings are empty!” Now if you have read Shadow Warfare or the excellent books by Gary Schroen – “First In” and Gary Berntsen – “Jawbreaker” you know exactly why I was thinking that.
The initial two months of the US attack on the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan were among the worst and best American military efforts ever…. It begin with the insertion of a single CIA team to contact and establish relationships with anti-Taliban forces, a limited number of other teams followed along with a small number of military special operations teams. The goal of those teams was literally “targeting”.
But the air campaign, run by CENTCOM, virtually ignored ongoing pleas from the CIA teams and for weeks made little or no use of the field targeting info, focused instead on “strategic strikes”. The people on the ground simply could not understand why CENTCOM would not pay attention to them and focus on actual enemy fighters….using weapons designed for maximum personnel impact (OK, I know that sounds bloodthirsty but its the way wars are normally won, if you think otherwise you should not be fighting). Only when there were no more airfields, command and control complexes, obvious storage hub etc did CENCOM start assigning major air assets to do what the CIA and Special Ops teams wanted – and within a matter of weeks, direct strikes on formations of fighters literally broke the back of the Taliban. Those strikes used some guided munitions but also massive bombing up to and including fuel air bombs. In December, 2001 the Bush Administration was almost ready to give up on the effort; the CENTCOM commander offered little hope – suggesting that the anti-Taliban forces were probably not even trainable – but within the next two months of strikes, guided by the small number of American boots on the ground, the Taliban was broken.
So far we are seeing what appears to be a repeat of the worst phase of the post-911 Afghanistan campaign. Its politically correct warfare. Its also a bad sign when you hear that in region only assets are being used – that means no gun ships, no Warthogs and none of the really broad impact weapons platforms (B-52’s come to mind). Certainly there is still time to turn the tide, our military knows how to do it….especially JSOC. But at the moment it appears that CENTCOM, using well established practices which work against developed nations and enemies, is running the show rather than JSOC, who knows how to fight these sorts of battles.
At this point, we appear to be making the horrible mistake of actually having no boots at all on the ground or if the covert teams are there, CENTCOM isn’t listening to them again. One can only imagine what Schroen or Berntsen would have to say – but strangely enough the media news folks are only interviewing former Generals, nobody is talking to the guys that pulled off one of the most impressive American military feats in recent decades. And if you don’t believe me, try the article below for a bit more detail.
UPDATE: NOW THE GOOD NEWS / SOMEBODY IS THINKING AFTER ALL – A-10’S ON THE WAY – NOW IF THEY JUST SEND THE GHOSTRIDER GUN SHIPS ISIS IS DONE IN FIELD COMBAT…..