Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Deputy Director and former US Air Force Intelligence Officer Col. Cedric Leighton argued that the United States essentially has “no air campaign” against ISIS on Friday’s “Shepard Smith Reporting” on Fox News Channel.
“It is no air campaign because when you compare the number of sorties, that is the number flights that were made with armament in the beginning of Iraqi freedom or the beginning of Desert Storm, this is not even a tenth of what we did during those nights of initial campaigning, so that’s why this is not a real air campaign, and I think we really need to be careful how we characterize this event,” he said.
Leighton also lamented that the US had lost element of surprise against ISIS, saying, “What you want to do is you want to make sure you have the element of surprise on your side. and we lost that in so many ways when it comes to not only the Iraqi campaign against ISIS, but also the Syrian phase of this campaign, and I really think it’s very important that we maintain that element of surprise, and the fact we have lost it creates some unique difficulties not only for air power but for future policy options in general.”
He emphasized the need for the US to defend Baghdad, stating, “If Baghdad is threatened, if Baghdad is about to become victim to ISIS or even if Baghdad is about to be encircled by ISIS, it’s really in our national interests that we put a stop to that, that we go ahead and actually make a difference when it comes to the fighting on the ground and that we really do a lot from an air campaign perspective as well as a special operations perspective that we haven’t seen right now at this point in this campaign.
“I think it’s a very bad situation. I am surprised that we let it go this far, this long, without engaging in effective action. But what this means, Harris, is that we’ve let politics decide exactly how we’re going to conduct a military campaign, and unfortunately military campaigns don’t wait for politics. They don’t wait for us to look at it in that way. They have their own realities, and we’re dealing with that reality right now,” he concluded.
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