‘We can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target in front of us’
U.S. military pilots who have returned from the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq are confirming that they were blocked from dropping 75 percent of their ordnance on terror targets because they could not get clearance to launch a strike, according to a leading member of Congress.
Strikes against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) targets are often blocked due to an Obama administration policy to prevent civilian deaths and collateral damage, according to Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The policy is being blamed for allowing Islamic State militants to gain strength across Iraq and continue waging terrorist strikes throughout the region and beyond, according to Royce and former military leaders who spoke Wednesday about flaws in the U.S. campaign to combat the Islamic State.
“You went 12 full months while ISIS was on the march without the U.S. using that air power and now as the pilots come back to talk to us they say three-quarters of our ordnance we can’t drop, we can’t get clearance even when we have a clear target in front of us,” Royce said. “I don’t understand this strategy at all because this is what has allowed ISIS the advantage and ability to recruit.”
When asked to address Royce’s statement, a Pentagon official defended the Obama administration’s policy and said that the military is furiously working to prevent civilian casualties.
“The bottom line is that we will not stoop to the level of our enemy and put civilians more in harm’s way than absolutely necessary,” the official told the Washington Free Beacon, explaining that the military often conducts flights “and don’t strike anything.”
“The fact that aircraft go on missions and don’t strike anything is not out of the norm,” the official said. “Despite U.S. strikes being the most precise in the history of warfare, conducting strike operations in the heavily populated areas where ISIL hides certainly presents challenges. We are fighting an enemy who goes out of their way to put civilians at risk. However, our pilots understand the need for the tactical patience in this environment. This fight against ISIL is not the kind of fight from previous decades.”
Jack Keane, a retired four-star U.S. general, agreed with Royce’s assessment of the administration’s policy and blamed President Barack Obama for issuing orders that severely constrain the U.S. military from combatting terror forces.