The Obama Administration continues to show complete incompetence in dealing with ISIS. Case in point: It’s decided that Ramadi, the capital of Anbar Province in western Iraq, is expendable – thereby showing it understands nothing about the value of the city or even its own capacity to defend it.
The reason? According to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, Obama is emphasizing defending a refinery in the same province to protect the oil supplies. As if we couldn’t do both – and then some.
For the past eight months, the Administration has settled for little more than jabs when it could have landed flurries of punishing roundhouse blows. According to the latest 24-hour report Defense Department report, the U.S. launched just 36 airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria. That’s actually much higher than normal. But nevertheless equals about one per fighter-bomber aboard the U.S. carrier normally stationed in the Persian Gulf, each of which can fly several sorties daily.
Now add in the vast numbers of area ground-based F-16s, F-15s, F-22s, A-10s, B-1 heavy bombers, helicopters, and Reaper and Predator drones among U.S. forces, plus aircraft of 11 other coalition nations. The day before there were only 13 airstrikes, fewer than a single Reaper can perform on one mission.
Cruise missiles are also in theater, and the U.S. can hit with heavy B-52 and B-2 bombers from anywhere in the world. Yet with this massive armada and with assets on the ground to help identify targets, the administration seems unable to find and strike more than a handful of targets daily. A machine gun here, a truck there. There’s been little effort to translate success in pinpoint assassination efforts, such as that which at least temporarily has knocked ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi out of the fight, into a war-fighting effort.
Which brings us back to Ramadi – a city that’s no big deal, says Dempsey. “It has no symbolic meaning.” That’s an incredible statement: The city’s meaning is both symbolic and strategic.
During the second Iraq war, al Qaeda in Iraq chose the city as its headquarters and it became the most fiercely contested area in the country. That’s why I spent two of my three Iraq embeds there. It’s why SEAL Team Three of “American Sniper” fame was stationed there during my embeds and yet again later. That includes the first SEAL killed in Iraq, plus Michael Monsoor, who won the Medal of Honor for diving on a grenade that only he could have survived. Many experts consider the Battle of Ramadi and the “Anbar Awakening,” engineered by Capt. Travis Patriquin, the actual turning point of the war. Patriquin – who a few months after briefing me on his brilliant plan was killed in Ramadi along with my own Marine public affairs “handler” – got the Sunni chieftains to join the Americans and Iraqi security forces to defeat al Qaeda.
Now those same chieftains and their brave men are being left to their own devices. Dempsey says that, when we get around to it, we’ll just take Ramadi back. Sure, like Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit was retaken – one bloody meter at a time as each trash bag, dirt mound, and corner was embedded with an IED. And after untold numbers of the defenders were horribly murdered for resisting the terrorists. In Ramadi, anybody who fought alongside us is slated for torture and death. Humanity aside, what kind of a signal are we sending potential allies?
Not that airstrikes are the only means of support short of ground troops. Why is it that all U.S. allies in Iraq and Syria, including those in Ramadi now, continue to complain they’re not being supplied with the most rudimentary of weapons and ammunition? A single mortar tube with ammunition can be far more effective than a jet flying hundreds of miles each way to drop a few bombs. They’ll do the fighting; they just need the means to do it.
It’s now been a year and five months since Obama proclaimed ISIS a bunch of varsity league amateurs. There’s no evidence he’s changed his mind or in any case sees ISIS as the threat everyone else seems to. Which is why only about a third of Americans support his actions regarding ISIS, the lowest figure yet, and 65 percent think the war against ISIS is “going badly.”
With monsters whose tactics would have made the German SS blanch, who have aroused the ire of the Pope and even other terrorist groups who are fighting them, Obama is keeping both of America’s arms tied behind its back. Under his leadership, it’s no sleeping giant – it’s downright comatose.