October 26, 2007
|Many-Fold Increase In US Airstrikes This Year In Iraq||Iraq|
They tried this in Vietnam, too. Keep troop deaths down by bombing from the air. Except it doesn't work (never mind the morality of it) in a counterinsurgency war. Too many civilians get killed. USA Today (via Xymphora):
The U.S. military has increased airstrikes in Iraq four-fold [sic] this year, reflecting a steep escalation in combat operations aimed at al-Qaeda and other militants.
Coalition forces launched 1,140 airstrikes in the first nine months of this year compared with 229 in all of last year, according to military statistics.
Airstrikes are up in Afghanistan, too. Coalition planes have made 2,764 bombing runs this year, up from 1,770 last year. The figures don't include strikes by helicopter gunships.
The increasing use of air power also stems from improved accuracy and smaller munitions that allow commanders to launch airstrikes against insurgents who travel in small groups and sometimes hide among civilians. [...]
"We are using air power in lieu of putting extensive forces on the ground," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Allen Peck, commander of the Air Force Doctrine Development and Education Center.
However, increased use of air power raises the chances of killing innocent civilians, said Mark Clodfelter, a professor at the National War College. Winning over the population is key to defeating insurgents.
"You don't want bombing to be a recruiting method for the insurgents," Clodfelter said. [Emphasis added]
The article says a four-fold increase, but their arithmetic's wrong. 1140 versus 229 is a five-fold increase, and that doesn't take into account the fact that the 1140 figure is for only 9 months. Extrapolate that out to a year, and the increase is more than 660%. Clearly, a sea change in tactics, one that is practically a secret here in the US.