The US-led coalition striking ISIS from the sky has built momentum and a better understanding of local militia’s targeting the terrorist group, and that has led to increased airstrikes in smaller battles across Iraq and Syria. On Feb. 1, coalition airstrikes helped tribal fighters in Ninawa province, Iraq, retake two villages during a large-scale attack against ISIS, according to US Central Command. This battle is emblematic of smaller fights that can help push ISIS out of villages it once held, CENTCOM spokesman Air Force Col. Patrick Ryder said during a Feb. 5 briefing. Although this support isn’t new, the coalition has been able to build on the experience to better support smaller tribes in their fights. “While there is a lot of attention paid to large-scale operations, there are multiple [smaller] operations in Iraq that are smaller in scale but no less important,” Ryder said. In late January and early February, tribal fighters, Iraqi security forces, and Kurdish forces, along with coalition help, have been able to retake villages in Kirkuk, Hit, Hadithah, and Karmah in Iraq, said Ryder.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.