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.I noted then:
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.
“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,’” [former general Jack] 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.”
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."Now, it appears that the administration, on some level, has woken up and admitted that killing civilians is sometimes necessary in order to get high-value targets - which is what international law allows.
We've looked at international law as it is actually written, not as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty choose to 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.
From USA Today:
The Pentagon has approved airstrikes that risk more civilian casualties in order to destroy Islamic State targets as part of its increasingly aggressive fight against the militant group in Iraq and Syria, according to interviews with military officials and data.
Six Defense Department officials, all speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to describe how Islamic State targets are selected and attacked, described a sliding scale of probable civilian casualties based on the value of the target and the location. For example, a strike with the potential to wound or kill several civilians would be permitted if it prevented ISIL fighters from causing greater harm.
Before the change, there were some limited cases in which civilian casualties were allowed, the officials said. Now, however, there are several targeting areas in which the probability of 10 civilian casualties are permitted. Those areas shift depending on the time, location of the targets and the value of destroying them, the officials said.
David Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who led its intelligence and surveillance efforts, said easing the restrictions was a necessary but insufficient step toward defeating the Islamic State, or ISIL.
"The gradualistic, painfully slow, incremental efforts of the current administration undercut the principals of modern warfare, and harken back to the approach followed by the Johnson administration," said Deptula, who now leads the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
Among the issues commanders consider before attacking is the target’s “non-combatant value.” A value of zero means it can be hit with no chance of civilians being killed — think of an ISIL machine gun emplacement in the desert.
The value rises in urban areas such as Ramadi, which Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led airpower, seized from ISIL in late December. Pockets of Ramadi and other areas of intense fighting have had non-combatant values of 10 or more, meaning that attacking them carries the probability of 10 civilian deaths, said the most senior of the six Defense officials. The area could be as small as a city block and permission to hit it could last for a matter of hours.
Israel had been the country with the best record in minimizing the ratio of civilian to combatant deaths in urban warfare in history by far up until recently. But the US bombing campaigns in Iraq have resulted in a seemingly much smaller civilian to combatant ratio still. Some of this is because the US was simply covering up many civilian deaths. However, part of the reason was no doubt because the White House has internalized the anti-war messages from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International - directed almost exclusively at Israel - where international law is twisted and perverted to prevent Western nations from defeating jihadists and terrorists who simply hide among civilians. Obama's directive of "I want zero civilian casualties" has cost countless lives at the expense of a perverted sense of morality.
Now the US military is vindicating what the IDF has always done. Because every military expert knows that Obama's' "no civilian death" policy is a recipe for defeat.
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