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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4 reader comments

  1. Liam White says:

    I would like to hear more from and about Turkey’s position in all this. They want Assad gone even more than they want Isis gone. They have an enormous army and could rely on NATO backup. They could do it by the end of next week if they wanted it badly enough. Is it just domestic opinion holding them back or are they holding out for something else?

  2. Philip Edwards says:


    “…heightening the chances of hitting civilians in any attempt to do so.”

    I can’t say, and nor can the public record, that those “chances” have ever stopped the Yanks mass bombing, mass murdering and invading other countries before.

    You could ask those who lost family and friends in Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Dominica Republic, Libya, Iraq, and any number of others.

    Where Dempsey and his ilk are concerned, it would be advantageous to check the record of Westmoreland in the Vietnam death-grinder and how he requested more men virtually every time he “discussed” the situation (see “In Retrospect” by Robert McNamara). Dempsey’s no different.

    The military NEVER change. They NEVER have enough men or material and when they lose it’s always “the fault of interfering politicians.”

    Where the Yanks are concerned the Pentagon is nothing but a mass murder machine, and the JCS and their underlings are the mechanics. It’s the only reason they exist.

  3. deef says:

    Sure, pinning part of the blame on “prolific Russian production lines” sounds totally fair. It’s not like Russia has been trying to avoid the current situation for ages.

  4. Susan Galea says:

    I can’t help but feel that this pressure should be resisted. Surely we have learned from our previous incursions into the Middle East stramash of Muslim internecine conflict and the horrors that we unleashed by our misguided folie de grandeur Blair instigated in Iraq alongside Bush? With our without our involvement this fight is being waged. With or without or further involvement this bloody horror will continue, but those who have financed it and are proxy masterminds are not prepared to intervene with the commensurate force to stop it. Why on earth are the western democracies – yet again- misreading the fundamental need for those directly responsible to take the action and circumvent the escalation of this into a Christian/ Western versus Muslim crusader conflagration? The Saudi Wahabbist sponsors; the Qatari ideologically- driven mercenary supporters; the Iranian and Syrian Shia opposition are all participants in a war that is not for us to prevent, but will surely escalate should we not, in humility, recognise the limitations of our ability to kill a twisted ideology with grotesque body counts and disproportionate force. This is folly.

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