? The United States will continue airstrikes in Iraq, as needed, to protect US citizens and facilities and conduct humanitarian airdrops, if required, to aid noncombatants in the face of Islamist terrorists, but is “not going to become Iraq’s air force,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby on Aug. 14. “There is still no American military solution to the larger crisis in Iraq,” Kirby told reporters. He added, “The only lasting solution is for the Iraqis to come together and form an inclusive government that represents the legitimate interests of all Iraqi citizens and unifies the country in its fight against [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant forces].” To date, US combat aircraft have carried out 25 airstrikes, roughly half against ISIL forces around Erbil in northern Iraq and another half around Mt. Sinjar where ISIL threatened refugees. Kirby didn’t rule out the possibility of US airstrikes near Baghdad. President Obama has been “very clear that we have the authority to conduct airstrikes to protect US personnel and facilities anywhere in Iraq, including down in Baghdad,” he said. (Kirby transcript)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.