Battling Islamic State: Boots on the ground. How about brains in the air?
Heard the one about Iraqi pilots mistakenly delivering food, water and ammunition Islamic State (IS) militants on a mission that was meant to supply their own side?
It’s a droll but true story and a uniquely illustrative sidebar to the ‘boots on the ground’ (brains in the air?) issue.
NBC News had Hakim Al-Zamili, a member of the Iraqi parliament and a senior security official, ascribing it to “the wrong plans of the commanders in the Iraqi army and lack of experience of the pilots”. A brigadier-general in Iraq’s Defense Ministry agreed that the pilots were “young and new”.
It points up US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Martin Dempsey’s recent lament that about half the Iraqi army is incapable of effectively working with the United States to battle IS, while the other half needs more training and equipment.
And it throws into relief, IS prisoner John Cantlie’s quote on a propaganda video from former CIA analyst Michael Scheurer, who headed the agency’s original al-Qaeda unit. Mr Scheurer said Islamists “have been in the field fighting since 1979, and their movement has never been larger, more popular or as well armed as it is today.”
Meanwhile, almost everywhere the US has intervened since 9/11, has become militarily less competent.