Precision Counts

Precision is paramount in the ongoing air campaign against ISIS extremists in Iraq and Syria, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told House legislators on Thursday. “The thing that will cause the Sunni population to actually take heart and actually reject [ISIS] is if we are very careful and don’t create civilian casualties,” Dempsey told members of the House Armed Services Committee. “We have to be very, very deliberate and very precise in our air campaign.” Dempsey said. “In just over 800 strikes to date,” the US military has done just that. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said US and coalition air strikes have helped the Peshmerga push ISIS out of Zumar in northern Iraq and start to retake areas around a critical oil refinery in Baiji. And, last week, Hagel said air strikes “hit a gathering of [ISIS] battlefield commanders near Mosul.” But the enemy is already starting to adapt and to adjust their tactics. “They will adjust, maneuvering in smaller groups, sometimes making it more difficult to identify targets, hiding large equipment, and changing their communications methods,” added Hagel. However, he also noted that “this pressure is having an effect on potential [ISIS] recruits” and is “striking a blow to morale and recruitment.”