Since August 8th, 2014 the United States Air Force has been conducting an air campaign against ISIS which has slowly escalated as the Obama administration acclimatizes the public to the inevitable “boots on the ground” that will have to be deployed.  That air campaign has expanded to hit ISIS targets in Syria this week but little information has come to light as to the effectiveness of these bombings until now.

Contrary to the statements of numerous television pundits, American air power does not require soldiers on the ground to call in fire or use laser designators to guide in munitions.  Thus far there have been few boots put on the ground, aside from a Special Forces ODA deployed to Sinjar Mountain with Peshmerga at one point in time.  However, this bombing campaign would be far more precise and effective with Air Force JTACs and CCTs on the ground.

These strikes have been planned and executed by photographic reconnaissance gathered by satellites and UAV’s, as well as what the pilots can visually identify on the ground.  With this in mind, the US Air Force has been bombing ISIS equipment and armored vehicles for the most part.  Command and control centers, logistical nodes, and leadership cells have not been bombed because the reality is that no one really knows where these locations are.  This is why we’ve been hitting armored vehicles, tanks, and artillery pieces which can be identified from the air.

While many are skeptical of the effectiveness of the air campaign against ISIS, several reports have emerged from North Iraq and Syria in which US airstrikes did play a decisive role in defeating or beating back ISIS.  Near the city of Kobane in Rojava (Syria), US air strikes destroyed a number of ISIS tanks, most likely T-72s.  It should also be noted that ISIS does not really know how to employ tanks and simply uses them as short range artillery pieces.