The US-led coalition’s mission against ISIS is moving as fast as it can toward the so-called caliphate’s capital of Raqqa, Syria, based on the abilities and pace of friendly ground forces, a senior Pentagon official said Friday. Elissa Slotkin, the acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said coalition support is moving “as fast as local forces on the ground are able to move.” US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces are in the “isolation phase” of the approach to Raqqa, and while it is “always good to be reflecting on what more we can do,” there is no easy way to simply accelerate the campaign. “All ideas are going to be on the table” to move the fight forward, she said. “They have a plan, they are pushing to the limit what we can do on intensifying that campaign.” Slotkin’s comments echo those made by Defense Secretary Ash Carter earlier in the week. Carter would not provide a timeline for ISIS’s defeat but said he is confident it will “conclude as soon as possible.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.