U.S. military pilots who have returned from the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq are confirming that they were blocked from dropping 75 percent of their ordnance on terror targets because they could not get clearance to launch a strike, according to a leading member of Congress.
Strikes against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) targets are often blocked due to an Obama administration policy to prevent civilian deaths and collateral damage, according to Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The policy is being blamed for allowing Islamic State militants to gain strength across Iraq and continue waging terrorist strikes throughout the region and beyond, according to Royce and former military leaders who spoke Wednesday about flaws in the U.S. campaign to combat the Islamic State.
[A] Pentagon official defended the Obama administration’s policy and said that the military is furiously working to prevent civilian casualties.
“The bottom line is that we will not stoop to the level of our enemy and put civilians more in harm’s way than absolutely necessary,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon, explaining that the military often conducts flights “and don’t strike anything.”
Jack Keane, a retired four-star U.S. general, agreed with Royce’s assessment of the administration’s policy and blamed President Barack Obama for issuing orders that severely constrain the U.S. military from combatting terror forces.
“This has been an absurdity from the beginning,” Keane said in response to questions from Royce. “The president personally made a statement that has driven air power from the inception.”
“When we agreed we were going to do airpower and the military said, this is how it would work, he [Obama] said, ‘No, I do not want any civilian casualties,’” Keane explained. “And the response was, ‘But there’s always some civilian casualties. We have the best capability in the world to protect from civilians casualties.’”
However, Obama’s response was, “No, you don’t understand. I want no civilian casualties. Zero,’” Keane continued. “So that has driven our so-called rules of engagement to a degree we have never had in any previous air campaign from Desert Storm to the present.”
This is likely the reason that U.S. pilots are being told to back down when Islamic State targets are in site, Keane said, citing statistics published earlier this year by U.S. Central Command showing that pilots return from sorties in Iraq with about 75 percent of their ordnance unexpended.
“Believe me,” Keane added, “the French are in there not using the restrictions we have imposed on our pilots.”
Obama is the first head of state in history to engage in a war where the rules of war have been created not by generals but by so-called "human rights groups."
We've looked at international law as it is actually written, not as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty choose ti interpret it. The laws of armed conflict allow a nation at war to minimize civilians casualties but many military targets are valuable enough that unwanted civilian casualties become a necessary evil.
To mandate that a war must be waged where there are zero civilian casualties is to surrender that war.
US armed forces manuals and statements are consistent with international law. One recent example is the US Naval Handbook (2007):
The principle of proportionality is directly linked to the principle of distinction. While distinction is concerned with focusing the scope and means of attack so as to cause the least amount of damage to protected persons and property, proportionality is concerned with weighing the military advantage one expects to gain against the unavoidable and incidental loss to civilians and civilian property that will result from the attack. The principle of proportionality requires the commander to conduct a balancing test to determine if the incidental injury, including death to civilians and damage to civilian objects, is excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage expected to be gained.
Death and injury to civilians and civilian objects are to be avoided as much as possible without sacrificing the military advantage to be gained by attacking the enemy forces. The person that makes this decision, under international law, is the military commander of the operation, with the best information he or she has at the time. It is not a head of state with no military experience.
The laws of armed conflict were written very carefully to allow states to wage war while minimizing civilian casualties. By choosing to use an interpretation of the LOAC that no military commander would ever use, Obama has given ISIS the ability to easily shield its targets from any US attack.
Chances are pretty good that the criticism that HRW and Amnesty routinely hurl at Israel for adhering to the laws of war as they were written is part of Obama's disastrous decision to abandon those laws in favor of the terrorists.
This is a recipe for national suicide. Maybe not from ISIS, but you can be sure that Russia and China and North Korea are carefully calibrating what they could do to win a possible war with the US one day, and this policy of surrender in the face of potential civilian casualties would give them a huge advantage.
(h/t JE Dyer)
This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 11 years and over 22,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.