Changing Enemy Behavior

Airpower has had a definite effect on ISIS tactics, said Air Combat Command chief Gen. Hawk Carlisle on Monday. “We have changed their way of fighting,” he said at an AFA-sponsored Air Force breakfast in Arlington, Va. “They don’t march down the middle of any battlefield; they don’t march down the middle of any towns, anymore. We have taken out a huge amount of their ability to conduct operations. We’ve changed their hierarchy. … [We] recently took out one of their financiers. … We’ve changed their ability to mass” forces, he said. The list of effects is “pretty impressive,” said Carlisle, emphasizing that, “we have been very deliberate in our attacks,” achieving the “lowest civilian casualties and most precise airstrikes in history.” That precision, “our ability to prevent civilian casualties and not do unintended harm … is critical to our success,” he asserted. “We all know no single tactical strike is going to change the war,” but if the United States undermines the Iraqi government or “if we disenfranchise the locals,” or cause friendly-fire incidents, “we’re going to have a problem,” he said. As to whether there is “more we can do” from the air, “I think there’s a lot of opinions out there. But airpower is doing some amazing work,” said Carlisle.