75% Of U.S. Bombing Runs Targeting Islamic State Returned Without Firing A Shot

From the Washington Times:
Nearly 75 percent of U.S. bombing runs targeting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria returned to base without firing any weapons in the first four months of 2015, holding their fire mainly because of a lack of ground intelligence and raising questions about President Obama’s key tactic in pushing back an enemy that continues to expand its territory in the war zone.

Key lawmakers are growing increasingly frustrated by the slow rate of U.S. bombing sorties, a frustration shared by a former Navy pilot who said in an interview that U.S. forces are clearly needed on the ground in Iraq to help provide targets for these pilots to hit.

Without ground forces, argues Cmdr. Christopher Harmer, a retired Navy helicopter pilot, U.S. airmen are essentially flying half-blind and, as a result, are returning to base with their bombs still in the bay.

or whoever is making decisions absolutely refuses to put American air controllers on ground, essentially pilots are flying with one eye closed,” Cmdr. Harmer said. “It’s almost impossible for pilots to designate between [Islamic State] fighters and coalition fighters.”

The U.S. conducted 7,319 sorties over Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in the first four months of 2015. Of those, only 1,859 flights — 25.4 percent — had at least one “weapons release,” according to data provided by United States Air Force Central Command. That means that only about one in every four flights dropped a bomb on an Islamic State target.

The slow tempo of strikes has long been a source of frustration for Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee. The Arizona Republican said at a hearing this year that missions that don’t drop bombs needlessly put American pilots in danger and that U.S. boots on the ground would produce better intelligence that could lead to more effective bombing missions...

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