Not Good: Our Airstrikes Are Missing A Lot Of ISIS' 'Dynamic Targets'

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Dec 10, 2015 2:40 PM
Not Good: Our Airstrikes Are Missing A Lot Of ISIS' 'Dynamic Targets'

So, depending on the day, 40 percent of our airstrikes fail to strike any Islamic State targets. That’s apparently what’s happening in our soft campaign against ISIS, according to Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Paul Selva. He gave this rather high figure to Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in his testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday (via Free Beacon):

“It depends on which day and which targets that we’re talking about, but roughly 40 percent come back every day not having struck dynamic targets, with weapons still aboard,” Selva said in a Senate testimony on U.S. strategy against IS.

Earlier in the hearing, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that IS is “building momentum.” He also said that the United States will not “hesitate to confront ISIS,” using an alternate acronym for IS.

Carter told the panel that the U.S. will provide more support for Iraqi forces fighting IS militants, including “accompanying advisers” and “attack helicopters.” He emphasized the importance of retaking Ramadi, a city in Iraq that was taken by Islamic State in May.

The Obama administration has found itself in a rather embarrassing position after the president said that ISIS was “contained.” The terrorist organization then launched a deadly attack in Paris a day later, which killed over 120 people. His December 6 Oval Office address after the possibly terrorist-inspired mass shooting in San Bernardino by Syed Farook, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, did little to reassure the public that he was keeping us safe from a future attack. In fact, The Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss, who has written extensively about the Islamic State, noted that members of this group probably laughed at the president’s address. He then went on to thoroughly eviscerate every talking point the president reiterated that evening. The next day, NBC News’ Richard Engel was equally skeptical about the president’s narrative regarding fighting ISIS.

Weiss noted that in the past two months, there have been five major ISIS-led terrorist attacks, three occurring in NATO countries. This threat isn’t contained in the slightest, and the president’s own Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter, agreed. The Institute for the Study of War  produced a graphic showing the extent of ISIS’ reach.

The graphic below depicts all attacks inspired or coordinated by ISIS in Europe from January 2014 to December 4, 2015. It also marks locations where ISIS-linked individuals have been arrested between those dates. Locations with more than two arrest events are marked with a number and a single icon. The graphic additionally reflects which countries have increased national threat levels in the wake of the Paris attacks, and shows where ISIS has directed public threats or recruitment calls. Individuals inspired by and responsive to ISIS are active across Europe, particularly in Western countries with high populations of foreign fighters. This activity contrasts with ISIS-linked arrests and attacks in Turkey, which reflect spillover from ISIS's campaigns in Iraq and Syria rather than ISIS's campaign to attack the West.

ISIS will likely expand its efforts to direct and resource sophisticated terror attacks in Europe. ISIS used its high-ranking Belgian-Moroccan military commander Abdelhamid Abouaad to coordinate multiple attack attempts in Belgium and France. ISIS may send similarly skilled individuals back to plan terror attacks there or in other historic European jihadist systems, including Spain and Morocco, Italy and the Balkans, or the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden.

So, we’re not winning, which is probably why the American people heavily disapprove of the president’s handling of terrorism and ISIS strategy, along with his refugee policy. It also doesn't help that there are allegations that the intelligence on ISIS was cooked to fit the Obama White House's narrative on the matter. Also, the needle is moving regarding sending ground troops to fight the terror group.