American and coalition aircraft have launched 5,900 air strikes since Operation Inherent Resolve began last year, and the air strikes “are the most precise in the history of warfare,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of the combined force air component, said recently. ISIS continues to hide among civilians, which can make targeting a challenge, but when friendly ground troops move into those areas, the enemy fighters are forced into the open, Brown said in a US Air Forces Central Command operations update. Combat air patrols also help limit ISIS’s movement, he said. “We can redirect the enemy’s advances or retreats. They can no longer travel using large vehicle convoys—they must now travel discreetly to conceal their movement or risk coalition air strikes,” he said. Operation Inherent Resolve began Aug. 8, 2014, but it is not the same fight now that it was then, said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, chief of staff for the combined joint task force-OIR. ISIS is more territorial, and has been conducting smaller, more focused attacks, Killea said. As of July 29, coalition forces had damaged or destroyed 8,789 targets, including 2,246 fighting positions and 336 Humvees, according to the Defense Department.
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.