24 Dec 2014

After plane crash, pressure grows for ground troops to be used against IS

People like General Martin Dempsey have been saying it for some time now – you cannot do this from the air. Destroying the IS mini-state from the air is not happening, in case anyone still has not noticed.

The Kurdish peshmerga forces simply are not good enough, well-equipped enough or well-trained enough. Their courage, motivation and morale – all present – are not enough.

We now know from the eyewitness account of the German film-maker recently granted access to IS- controlled Mosul that the IS militia are carefully spread out as one would expect , making it more difficult for anyone to hit anything of value from the air and heightening the chances of hitting civilians in any attempt to do so.

Inevitably the news comes today of a Jordanian fighter jet downed or crashed on IS territory from the coalition of countries currently failing to bomb the IS statelet into oblivion.

Inevitable because we have known for some time that the northern Iraq area is flooded with various types of hand-held anti-aircraft missile launchers.

If it indeed was downed then clearly any in-air protection against heat- seeking missiles appears to have failed.

And from the implosion of Libya on the one hand to the prolific Russian production lines on the he other, the availability of many kinds of hand-held and fixed anti-aircraft missiles has widened across the region.

Further – with defectors from the Iraqi army and beyond among the IS ranks – there are also people on the ground, fighting with IS, with the training and knowledge to use such kit effectively.

So expect Gen Dempsey and many other voices to grow louder in the coming weeks that more must be done with ground forces if IS is to be dislodged.

Boots on the ground there certainly are in terms of special forces and assorted military “advisers”. But the political pressure will only grow as – crashed or shot down – we await the grim consequences of the Jordanian jet failing to return to base.

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