Short answer: Probably not.

Even as it appears more and more inevitable that a renewal of Western involvement in the ground war in Iraq is coming, there are no indicators that it would be anything other than a repeat of the later stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. That means lots of heavy, high-profile armored vehicles (that tend to break early and often thanks to the weight involved), lots of high-profile heavy infantry (the U.S. and its allies have no proper light infantry), and all major decisions being made or run by officers isolated in air-conditioned TOCs, convinced that the fact they can watch wherever they want by Predator feed means they know and understand what is going on on the ground.

For all that the insurgency got driven underground in the later stages of OIF, it is obvious at this point that the entire COINeffort in Iraq was a failure.A repeat of the same performance can expect the same result.

A number of pundits are asking whether the U.S. and its allies are presently “winning” against Daash by way of airstrikes. The answer to that should be obvious, and was a foregone conclusion before the strikes even began. No war has yet been won entirely from the air, and with Daash’s prior experience, they have adapted quickly (almost as soon as the strikes started), leading to the distinct possibility that even the damage reported to have been done to Daash has been overstated.

At least one of the early videos of strikes in Raqqa appeared to be the bombing of an entirely empty building.  Later reports have suggested, at the very least, that Daash was anticipating airstrikes and had been prepared—having evacuated any major targets before the planes were even in the air. The fact that they have further dispersed into units of no more than 50 men further suggests that we’re bombing targets of limited utility at best.

The widely touted video of the bombing of the Daash flag on the hill above Kobani is an example of just how ineffective the air campaign has already been.


While the back of the hill cannot be seen, what is visible is a flag and two Daash fighters. The average cost of a JDAM is around $22,000, and that’s just the guidance package, not the bomb itself, or the cost of operating the aircraft that dropped it. All for a flag and a couple of trigger-pullers.