« Obama authorizes limited airstrikes to protect US personnel in Irbil | Main | CENTCOM videos show airstrikes on Islamic State artillery, convoy »




US begins airstrikes against Islamic State near Irbil



The US military launched an airstrike against Islamic State forces near the Kurdish capital of Irbil. From Pentagon Press Secretary and Spokesman for Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:

The Department of Defense stated in a press release that F/A-18s dropped two bombs on a "mobile artillery piece' near Irbil:

At about 6:45 a.m. EDT, two F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on a mobile artillery piece near Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Kirby said, adding that ISIL was using this artillery to shell Kurdish forces defending the city, where U.S. personnel are located.

The decision to strike was made by Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, under authorization granted him by the commander in chief, the admiral said.

"As the president made clear, the United States military will continue to take direct action against ISIL when they threaten our personnel and facilities," he added.

The US military moved quickly to strike the Islamic State after President Obama issued a statement last night authorizing airstrikes against Islamic State fighters threatening Irbil or US personnel anywhere in Iraq. The US military is also authorized to launch airstrikes to protect civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar. Obama said that US ground forces will not be deployed to Iraq.

Update: The US conducted two additional air strikes against an Islamic State convoy and mortar positions threatening Irbil. From the Department of Defense:

Shortly after 10 a.m. EDT, remotely piloted aircraft struck a terrorist mortar position, Kirby said in a statement. When ISIL fighters returned to the site moments later, he added, the terrorists were attacked again and were killed.

At about 11:20 a.m. EDT, four F/A-18 aircraft successfully struck a stationary ISIL convoy of seven vehicles and a mortar position near Erbil.

"The aircraft executed two planned passes," Kirby said. "On both runs, each aircraft dropped one laser guided bomb making a total of eight bombs dropped on target, neutralizing the mortar and convoy."



READER COMMENTS: "US begins airstrikes against Islamic State near Irbil"

Posted by JimBo at August 8, 2014 11:30 AM ET:

So, no "US ground forces".

I assume that is very permissive wording that permits "training", "advisory". Wondering if FACs have been deployed as they could be, presumably, classified not as "ground forces" but "support". I've I were a pesh murga commander, I would be very uncomfortable with "helpful" CAS and no FAC; way too easy for mistakes to be made.

Posted by m3fd2002 at August 8, 2014 11:33 AM ET:

Let's see where this goes. Politically, it's not good for Obama, it makes it look like he made a significant mistake by withdrawing from Iraq completely. It will also put pressure on him to slow the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Having said that, it's time to take IS seriously and have a plan. I'm very suspicious of the Erdogan Government. Some one is supporting IS in a significant way, and I believe it is the Turks. Turkey has not been an ally of the US since the first gulf war, if you recall. It's time to kick them out of NATO, period. You can't fix a problem if you don't admit to it or recognize it.

Posted by LPD-RI at August 8, 2014 2:06 PM ET:

Can't help but think that this is far too little, far too late. Hopefully I'm wrong. But my goodness, our leadership is weak.

Posted by John Moore at August 8, 2014 2:45 PM ET:

It has been reported that Iran supported ISIS/ISIL/IS. They may still be supporting them.

Possible motivations are:

1) Remove western support from the rebellion against Iranian ally Assad in Syria

2) Force Iraq firmly into Iranian hands.

Both of these goals have been met.

I wonder if Iran now has a tiger by the tail, or if they are still happy with IS?

Posted by Ayamo at August 8, 2014 4:38 PM ET:

The new "mission" (if you want to call it that way) has two goals: One appears to be saving the trapped Yazidis from the worst fate, the second being to save "American personnel" in Erbil.

I applaud the first goal, the second goal is a very lame excuse for a reasoning to bombard IS. What's "we'll protect American personnel in Erbil" supposed to mean? "We'll bombard every IS truck that moves towards Erbil, but we won't mind if you spread around a bit further, as long as you keep away from the city".

I'm reminded of Guderian's quote here ...

Posted by Rosario at August 8, 2014 5:19 PM ET:

Quite a speech by Mr. Obama last evening; his realization that his foreign policy is not quite measuring up to his rhetoric. He sounded upset.

I must award him a Michael Corleone:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPw-3e_pzqU

Posted by KW64 at August 8, 2014 10:44 PM ET:

If all we do is protect Irbil, it will not be enough. Feeding and giving water to religious minority refugees is not enough to save them in the long run.

Posted by Daniel Lopez at August 9, 2014 6:15 AM ET:

Did anyone else notice that this mobile artillery unit was only just shipped to the Erbil last weekend?

Erbil announced their shipment of unspecified "heavy weapons" last weekend http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/03082014

Now the US is saying they struck a US made mobile artillery unit that was recently seized from the Kurdish over the last week.

It seems it's not just the Iraqi army who are good at donating equipment.

Posted by jean at August 9, 2014 10:12 AM ET:

I have seen CAS stacked 4 layers deep to engage a group of less than 100 AQ/TB, but we send two birds to deal with a conventional force. An insurgent force is most vulnerable when it transitions from guerrilla tactics to straight up combat. Its T ball for a major leagues, let’s swing for the fences.

Posted by M. Muthuswamy at August 9, 2014 11:21 AM ET:

I have been wondering where ISIL got their gleaming and new Toyota Tundra trucks when they first invaded Iraq.

Now, apparently they have new Land Cruisers.

Is it possible that some knowledgeable GM/Ford/Chrysler executives comment on this:)-

By the way, Honda executives are also welcome.

Posted by Marc at August 9, 2014 3:23 PM ET:

I don't agree that Iran is supporting IS. Quite the opposite. The nations who are "not exactly supporting but not exactly opposing them either" include Turkey, Saudi, Kuwait. Obviously we have to keep in mind the movement of about 30,000 Saudi troops to their borders with Syria (not so much to fend off an invasion but to prevent IS's stated desire to cause an uprising in the northern tribes).
Iran still maintains its network of allies across the region (Hezbollah, Syrian Government, puppet Iraqi regime) while as this site has documented allowing AQ to get facilitate funding (as AQ in all its forms does not support IS) and generally do what they have to to prevent another Sacred Defense.

Posted by Rhonda at August 10, 2014 6:11 AM ET:

Regarding this airstrike on the Friday, it was reported by Mehwer (Egy) (who had a reporter with boots on the ground and filmed the air strike from start to finish), that IS militants left the area 1 - 1.5 hrs before the air strike, because they were tipped off, and the US hit completely empty buildings. I saw the videos, and the explosions were very small, and it was a very limited strike, only 2 or 3 bombs. I looked up some information and it turns out that 500 lbs are the smallest bombs in service. They used a laser guided version of the Mark 82 general purpose bomb. So it is just a political show.

Posted by fern at August 10, 2014 6:42 PM ET:

To those who consider the leadership weak:
Is a strong leadership fighting the first Gulf war ?
Was the invasion of Iraq a show of strong leadership ?
Was the invasion of Afghanistan wisely thought out by the "strong leadership" ?
Was replacing a dictator by an incapable slob a show of strong leadership ?
In my opinion for the first time in a long while America stopped acting as a lackey of some middle east countries and fighting other countries wars at the cost of American lives.
The actual "weak" leadership could have moved to Syria and do what ? at the cost of how many American lives ?
I have too much respect for the American forces to see them wasted by incompetent politicians too often good generals were replaced by politicians at a cost to the troops.

Posted by Bill Baar at August 11, 2014 3:04 PM ET:

The surge took strong leadership. From both President Bush, and PM Maliki. Read Mansoor's "Surge: My Journey with General Petreaus" and the chapter on the "Charge of the Knights".

Posted by blert at August 11, 2014 4:18 PM ET:

fern...

You seem green in the ways of the world.

Young?

Weak vs Strong? ... Are you still in High School?

The metric is always whether the policy is wise and sound, ... or not.

Washington and Lincoln stand the test of time. They showed sound strategic visions. However, for years on end, field results did not match their leadership.

Both Bush I and Bush II largely left HUGE strategic decisions to one man: Colin Powell.

He terminated Gulf War I far too soon -- and just after it was shockingly discovered that Saddam had a massive (totally secret) atomic bomb project under way. This was such an epic mistake that I -- and everyone I knew -- called it thus before the echo died -- in 1991.

He fouled up OIF by entirely throwing out Rumsfeld's vision: give the keys to the Iraqis and back away ASAP. Instead Paul Bremer (Colin Powell's boy) was installed -- over Rumsfeld's objections. The epic waste -- trying to rebuild Iraq began in earnest.

Bush-Rumsfeld made one EPIC mistake that few call them on: No priority was given to napalming the massive weapons depots at H2 and H3 -- out in the western sands of Iraq -- miles from no-where.

These two ammo depots supplied essentially 98% of all of the IEDs for the next decade. The insurgency didn't take off until the Sunnis had removed -- taking months -- countless rounds of howitzer and mortar ammunition -- hiding it under Sunni sands.

This entirely explains why ALL of the IEDs were Sunni in origin -- until the mullahs started giving ammo to the Shi'ites -- straight over the border.

This fiasco is never brought up -- by the Left or the Right.

Afghanistan was not invaded: it was punished with regime removal BECAUSE mullah Omar shielded OBL -- and explicitly so.

Somewhere along the line, the Colin Powell doctrine was expanded over to Afghanistan. It has proved just as awful, all over again.

Afghanistan could never be a rebuilding project: the place had never been built in the first place. The tribes there operate on NEOLITHIC principles. Everything metallic is imported. Otherwise, the land would be in the stone age.

Barry is solely responsible for over half of the injuries during the Afghanistan campaign. They took off AFTER he 'Colin Powelled' the campaign.

Tribal culture is based upon capture, theft or destruction. Production and manufacturing have absolutely no meaning to Afghans. What little they do, do... is based upon the 'hustle' -- the need to obtain lucre from a patron.

At which point, everything is monkey see, monkey do. The reason why things are being done -- Western style -- has ZERO resonance in Afghan tribal culture.

The Soviets went through their version of the same discovery.

The Europeans have also made the same 'social discovery trek, while with the ISAF.

&&&

Barry is being universally declaimed by every quarter for being weak -- to non-existent, policy wise -- in Syria. Ankara is so furious, they won't pick up Barry's phone calls. (!)

ISIS got relaunched when Barry's Jordanian training project went awry. The boys went rogue the second they went north to the Euphrates river.

All were vetted to make sure they didn't align with al-Nusrah. At least that part has worked out: Al-Nusrah is in severe decline: ISIS is destroying it. This is mostly happening by sucking jihadis right out of its ranks -- to hook up with ISIS.

As for putting Assad out of business: ISIS had/ has been selling Syrian crude into the global market by way of Assad! They can't shut up about it. Yeah, they take a heck of a haircut on the sales price.

Between Assad and ISIS, al-Nusrah is almost being liquidated. No-one backs a loser.

For a while, Barry was thrilled. Killing off al-Nusrah had been his primary goal for training the 'Jordanian crowd.'

But now it's all blow-back. Barry's got too much jihad on his plate.

As for dictator al-Maliki: he timed his play to coincide with Barry's golf daze, don't you doubt it. He's fully aware that all of the anti-Maliki factions turn around the American embassy in Baghdad. So, during this coup, he's isolating everyone from the Americans. Naturally, he's telling the Americans: "It's not safe to leave the embassy." Duh.

&&&

To get the right answers: ask better questions.

Posted by DR at August 12, 2014 9:09 PM ET:

Blert's analysis should be part of any history course. I am curious how you view developments in Libya and the "Arab Spring" as fitting into the current scenario. How much more FUBAR would that area be if Egypt remained with the Brotherhood.

Best move is to fully support the Kurds, help them nation build and keep the Turks and Iranians and other jihadis pre-occupied. Probably piss off Vladdy too.