Monday, October 13, 2014


In almost two weeks, 30 missions were flown, each time with a two-plane flight, and two ground targets engaged and destroyed. A modest tally, but then the BAF operates only six F-16 jets from a Jordanian base.

 photo airstrike_BAF2_zps39f16a78.jpg

The first time a group of ISIS terrorists on foot were taken out (see below); the second time an armed pick-up truck with its crew.

 photo airstrike_BAF_zps11ce8ec7.jpg

The following video courtesy of VTM (Vlaamse Televisie Maatschappij) News:

The first officer is Major General Fred Vansina, explaining that the first target, which had already been spotted by our jets, were first engaged by a drone with 'een klein type raket, wat onvoldoende bleek'. Translation: 'a small type of missile, which proved to be insufficient'. Thereafter the F-16's intervened and took them out with a guided bomb.

An explanation which leaves me with a few questions. By 'drone' I assume he means an MQ-1 Predator drone; by 'a small type of missile' an AGM-114 Hellfire (are Predators equipped with other types of missiles?). Hellfires have warheads weighing 8-9 kg. Vansina says that since the blast thereof was 'insufficient', our jets used precision-guided bombs instead. To the best of my knowledge, these must be Paveway II's, which, also to the best of my knowledge, pack around 90kg of tritonal high explosive in their warhead. I fear that I may come across as a terrible illiterate with real military guys, but is there anyone who would judge the blast of the bomb, which leaves the palm trees to the right untouched, as from a Paveway warhead?

The report goes on to say that our F-16's operational area covers the whole of Iraq, but that most of the 30 missions were flown near Baghdad. There were also some missions in Kurdistan and apparently a handful against a target lying perhaps 100km west/northwest of the Iraqi capital.

The second officer is Lt Gen. Claude Van De Voorde, the BAF's CINC, saying that more occasions to engage the enemy presented themselves but that the Belgian Liaison Officer in (?) HQ (in Qatar, is that possible?) vetoed them because the risk for collateral damage was too high.

In the meantime, Belgium finally has a new government, a center-right one no less, and it is up to this new government whether our fighter-bombers stay after the initially agreed upon timeframe of one month.

I sure hope so. Even though the sorties flown by the 'international coalition' amount to only 10 per cent of the total number of sorties, the lion's share of course being flown by US planes, any help is welcome. The Kobani siege is bad for the Kurds, but the real prize is of course Baghdad. If that city would fall then the rest of the country would be up for grabs, and the psychological impact would be appalling. Think helicopters on a roof in Saigon and all that - and worse.

The absolutely dismal, even scandalously poor performance of the Iraqi Army is a bad thing, and even one that warrants close scrutiny when all this is over, but the US and the West losing a ten-year investment trying to install a working democracy in the region would be far worse. We are talking here about an investment that has caused the deaths of close to 5,000 US servicemen and women, tens of thousands of wounded and maimed, untold billions of dollars in reconstruction and training, and a dazzling array of military hardware. All these efforts cannot be permitted to go to waste. The US and its allies have to stay there and pound IS to smithereens until they back off. I refuse to believe a couple of tens of thousands illiterate murderers who probably can't even perform properly beyond the platoon level can't be defeated.


No comments: