Strike and ISR sorties by coalition air forces in Iraq and Syria through June 30 are running at slightly higher paces than at this point in 2015, with a near record number of weapons released in June, the US Central Command Combined Forces Air Component Commander reported. At the same time, aerial refueling missions are down. In an airpower summary released July 19, the command also showed a slight increase in kinetic efforts in Afghanistan and a similar drop in air tanker missions. “June was an extremely kinetic month” for Operation Inherent Resolve, the summary said, with 1,888 combat strike sorties and 3,167 weapons employed against ISIS. The June weapons release total was second only to the 3,227 employed in November since August 2014. Coalition air “continues to strike more lucrative targets with greater effect while striking the enemy at an increased pace,” the summary said. It said strikes against logistics lines, command and control, weapons manufacturing, and financial resources “are helping shape the battlespace for coalition ground forces and was evident during Fallujah’s liberation.” Airstrikes in Afghanistan supported the counterinsurgency campaign while “providing round-the-clock protection for ground forces,” it said. The report also noted the Afghan Air Force continues to increase its capability and capacity with more fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.