America’s ace – Without the might of the U.S. Air Force, the battle would be lost by Eric Margolis

America’s ace – Without the might of the U.S. Air Force, the battle would be lost

Dandelion Salad

Sun, July 29, 2007
Toronto Sun

Washington is buzzing with talk about withdrawing U.S. military forces from Iraq, but nobody seems to have told the United States Air Force. Far from packing their duffel bags, America’s air warriors appear to be planning a long stay in Iraq.

Why else would the USAF be expanding its air bases in Iraq, including lengthening a second 11,000-foot runway at Balad Airbase, its nerve centre for Iraq operations? Washington hopes to retain control of oil-rich Iraq by using American air power and native troops — the same formula employed by the British Empire.


The U.S. Air Force recently moved new squadrons of advanced F-16Cs and A-10 ground attack aircraft to Iraq. Powerful B-1B heavy bombers have been repositioned from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to the Gulf, an hour flying from central Iraq.

The $220 million B-1s, built to attack the Soviet Union, carry up to 41,000 lbs. of bombs. Their deadly accurate GPS-guided 500-lb and 1,000-lb bombs have inflicted heavy casualties on resistance fighters and, inevitably, civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Without U.S. fighters, B1 and B-52 heavy bombers, and AC-130 gunships flying top cover, over-stretched U.S. infantry in Iraq and U.S./NATO forces in Afghanistan would face defeat. Western forces could not protect their long, vulnerable supply lines against local guerillas.

U.S. and NATO bases would become little Dienbienphus. Afghanistan’s previous invaders, the British and Soviets, were defeated by their inability to protect their long lines of communications.

By contrast, the mighty USAF maintains 24-hour combat air patrols that can respond within minutes to calls from ground units, directing devastating cluster munitions, smart bombs, and cannon fire onto attackers.

Consequently, assaults on U.S. and NATO ground units are near suicidal affairs. So Iraqi and Afghan resistance forces have adopted as their weapon of choice roadside bombs command-detonated by a single fighter from a safe distance.


U.S. and NATO units, under mounting attack, are increasingly calling in close air support and bombing runs. This over-reliance on air support is causing civilian casualties to mount sharply in Afghanistan and Iraq. Guerilla forces can be suppressed and dispersed by air power, but not decisively defeated.

Whenever the U.S. and NATO claim “100 dead suspected Taliban” or “50 dead Iraqi insurgents,” many are actually dead civilians. There is no way fighter and bomber pilots can distinguish between un-uniformed fighters and civilians.

Remarkably, U.S. satellites can read licence plates through clouds, smoke, rain or foliage, and track human infrared signatures. Drones, U-2 spy planes and a fleet of electronic warfare aircraft provide unblinking, 24/7 “eyes in the sky” over almost all of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.S. Air Force has become to the American Imperium what the Royal Navy was to the British Empire, the source of its might, and means of power projection.

While the Royal Navy ruled the waves, the USAF can today reach and strike any point on the globe with devastating accuracy, speed and force.

In fact, the USAF is now so technologically advanced it is perhaps two generations ahead of the rest of the world. Russia has advanced technology and anti-stealth systems on the drawing board, but cannot yet afford to deploy them. Russia, China, and India are unlikely to catch up with U.S. military technology for the next 25 years — if ever.

The U.S. accounts for 50% of total global military spending, and is simply too far ahead. Only Europe could compete militarily, had it the will. In fact, America’s air power has enjoyed total air superiority since 1943.


The USAF also has the U.S. military’s smartest, best educated officers. The U.S. Army’s thankless role has become pinning down enemy units so they can be destroyed by the USAF’s smart bombs.

The only real challenge facing the USAF comes from its old enemy, the U.S. Navy, which is determined not to let the flyboys blitz its budgets and steal all the glory.

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3 thoughts on “America’s ace – Without the might of the U.S. Air Force, the battle would be lost by Eric Margolis

  1. Pingback: USAF gets far too little credit for role in Iraq by Eric Margolis « Dandelion Salad

  2. Killing civilians is not to be confused with winning the war. President Bush Jr. declared “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”. He should have said:” MISSION ABORTED”. When you open an air offensive with daisey cutters, you are actually allowing the Taliban military units and garrisons situated at the foothill of the great ‘Hindukush’ mountain chain ( spreading into Afghanistan, ex-Soviet Russia, China, India and Pakistan) to escape into the great mountain chain and quickly to put distance between USAF and themselves. The Talibans escaped thanks to a wrong strategy of making an opening move with Airpower. Has the casualties of the civilians forced the Talibans to surrender?
    Similiarly, an advance to contact ,on a single axis, from Basra to Baghdad, was a military mistake. Did you see the million strong Iraqi army enroute? Were you checked at rivers and bridges? or even in Baghdad? Where had the Iraqi army gone? It was disarmed, given ammunition and weapons of choice to disappear altogether. Then Saddam was dancing!
    Occupational armies themselves start anti-occupationnal struggle. When the doors are forceably broken, inmates made to lie down with hands bound and face masked, the anger it causes starts the guerilla warfare.
    Saddam had a million strong army and half a million strong police and detectives.To replace them all with 120,000 US Soldiers ( that too staying in cities and protected zones) is what caused ANARCHY. Some 30 divisions job cannot be done by 2 divisions. Paul Bremer, the pro-counsel sent with US troops says the same thing. It was a mistake sending Iraqi army and police home without their roll-call. A gazette is no substitute for a roll-call.
    So the troops cannot stopo anarchy , nor put an end to war by warlords.
    America has more problems in Iraq than Soviet Russia had in Afghanistan.
    But there still is a way out. History teaches the way out of any situation.
    These are my thoughts. Six years ago I predicted US losing the war with tens of thousand casualties (google SAEED TIWANA). Today ,sadly, I stand PROVED.

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