Quick remarks on the bombing campaign over Iraq/Syria

Isn't it fascinating how the recent COIN doctrine fashion with its emphasis on the civilians in the theatre appears to play almost no or no role in the current campaign in over Iraq and Syria?

On the other hand, FM 3-24 is an army publication, and the army plays only a small supporting role in the current campaign. As far as I know the USAF and USN never created real counter-paramilitary field manuals, and the involved fixed wing aviation of the USMC appears to follow USN naval air doctrine in such matters.

We're back to "bomb bomb bomb them", Kosovo-style - except that this time the objective is extremist again, calling for the destruction of the enemy. It is as if military theory and doctrine played no role whatsoever, as if we were back to smashing skulls with clubs.

Strategic air campaigns tend to have a very dumb appearance with primitive and excessive targeting, rarely any well-devised, logical link between action and objective and huge expenses with little to show for. Military theory about strategic air warfare is often outright primitive (Douhet et al) or little more than a fig leaf for primitive targeting of just about everything (Warden). Maybe primitive campaigns could be avoided if military theory could get some smart concepts recognized widely.

The whole campaign lets me doubt the ability to learn:
Extremist objectives, a mode of campaigning that will merely reduce the adversary's active repertoire instead of accomplishing the objective, a training and advising component (as if six years of largely fruitless training and advising hadn't proved this futile), in the Middle East and without a definitive end date. The whole bombing campaign sounds like the outcome of a 2007 competition for proposals for the most stupid hypothetical future military campaign.

The bombing campaign appears to be a 100% domestic political thing:
(1) Provides the military and arms industry with (false) justifications in the fight for preserving the almost GWOT hysteria-level budgets
(2) Maintains an external adversary for the population to project hate on and to distract from domestic issues
(3) Politicians entertained by playing with the military
(4) Relieves pressure coming from the press "to do something".
(5) Maintains the (partial illusory) aura of a globally relevant super power
(6) Attempted delay of a final, negative answer to the question whether "warfare works" well in foreign policy




  1. Hmm. So the bombing has all sorts of political benefits and seems unlikely to change anything. Thus keeping the industrial military congressional complex well fueled with money for the indefinite future.

    Sounds like a winner to me.

  2. Bomb everything isn't exactly a fair critique
    When you have the capacity to bomb 500 targets a say and the list of politically acceptable targets runs to five, targets, its rather hard not to bomb everything...

    The bombing campaign is an utter disaster, but so were the hopelessly restricted land campaigns in the same theatre.

    Airpower could win the war overnight
    Rule out CBRN and it takes a little longer.
    Rule out discomforting anyone not actively raping a child and its going to take a whole lot longer still

    1. I disagree with your idea of what constitutes "winning".

    2. "Airpower could win the war overnight"

      Tragically flawed, and in the spirit of gallows humor I note that nuclear forces are relying increasingly upon submarine launch ballistic missiles!


    3. SO
      Actually you agree
      I think unconditional surrender is a foolish goal.

      I'm not convinced Isis could do much to prevent the US lancer fleet deploying free fall nukes.

      Half a dozen MOABs would bring ISIS to the table.
      Linebacker II bought Vietnam to the table