Friday, December 5, 2014

Third casualty of Operation Inherent Resolve is US pilot

Late Sunday a U.S. pilot was killed as his plane attempted to return to an airbase following "maintenance problems" immediately after takeoff. The death is the first involving a fixed-wing aircraft, an F-16, since the campaign began.



The campaign now named Operation Inherent Resolve began on August 8 and involves air attacks against IS positions in both Iraq and Syria but also attacked the Khorasan in Syria that is part of Jabha al-Nusra a group linked to Al Qaeda. At first the campaign had no name while other partners had already named their operations. The UK operation was called Operation Shader. The French named theirs Operation Chammal. Canada had Operation Impact, and finally Australia Operation Okra. There was considerable criticism of the US which usually gives operations euphemistic, propaganda-laden names such as Operation Enduring Freedom.
 The Wall Street Journal blogs asked for name suggestions. Some were quite interesting One contributor suggested Operation Tentative Ambivalence. Joe Messina suggests a title with far too many "likes": A Warlike Act on Terrorlike Acts by Soldierlike people. Another contributor suggested a much shorter and quite appropriate title: No Boots. Finally there was a clever contribution involving puns. Since puns are not allowed in China no doubt the title was rejected because it could not be used by Chinese media: Operation Ice IS. CENTCOM ignored all these fine suggestions for titles and on October 15th came up with the name Operation Inherent Resolve that expressed the usual high-minded noble attitudes of the US toward their missions in other words it is replete with inflated high-minded rhetoric extolling the inherent goodness of a mission against evil: According to CENTCOM officials, the name INHERENT RESOLVE is intended to reflect the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. It also symbolizes the willingness and dedication of coalition members to work closely with our friends in the region and apply all available dimensions of national power necessary - diplomatic, informational, military, economic - to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.
Perhaps the UN needs Operation Feed the Displaced to gather funds to feed the millions that have been displaced by the civil war in Syria. The UN find themselves running out of funds from donors who seem to lack any inherent resolve to contribute the funds necessary to help solve this humanitarian disaster. Now back to the story after the editorial.
 The F-16 that crashed took off from an unidentified air base. However, the US is using airbases at al-Udeid in Qatar and al-Dhafra in the UAE to support Operation Inherent Resolve. The cause of the incident is still being investigated. This is not the first casualty in the Operation Inherent Resolve. On Oct. 1 an MV-22 Osprey lost power shortly after takeoff from the USS Makin Island. Two marines bailed out. One was rescued but Marine Cpl. Jordan Spears was never found. The pilot stayed with the Osprey, regained control and landed safely. Spears' death was reclassified after the operation was named so that he is now listed as having died in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Just ten days after this event, Lance Corporal Sean Neal, just 19 died in a "non-combat related incident" in the Iraq capital Baghdad.
Given the limited number of personnel on the ground in Iraq, there are unlikely to be many casualties during the Operation Inherent Resolve.The US administration has resolved so far not to risk negative political fallout from having boots on the ground in combat with resulting casualties.

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