April 23, 2021

Spotter Up

In Depth Tactical Solutions

Airpower in the War against ISIS By Benjamin S. Lambeth

2 min read

Overview

Airpower in the War against ISIS chronicles the planning and conduct of Operation Inherent Resolve by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) from August 2014 to mid-2018, with a principal focus on the contributions of U.S. Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT). Benjamin S. Lambeth contends that the war’s costly and excessive duration resulted from CENTCOM’s inaccurate assessment of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), determining it was simply a resurrected Iraqi insurgency rather than recognizing it as the emerging proto-state that it actually was. This erroneous decision, Lambeth argues, saw the application of an inappropriate counterinsurgency strategy and use of rules of engagement that imposed needless restrictions on the most effective use of the precision air assets at CENTCOM’s disposal. The author, through expert analysis of recent history, forcefully argues that CENTCOM erred badly by not using its ample air assets at the outset not merely for supporting Iraq’s initially noncombat-ready ground troops but also in an independent and uncompromising strategic interdiction campaign against ISIS’s most vital center-of-gravity targets in Syria from the effort’s first moments onward.

Benjamin Lambeth

Benjamin S. Lambeth is a Senior Fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a position he assumed in 2011 following a 37-year career at the RAND Corporation. A long-time specialist in international security affairs and air warfare, he has extensive flight experience in more than 40 different combat aircraft types worldwide and is the author of The Transformation of American Air Power.

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