Pentagon could adjust air campaign in war against ISIS

Pentagon could adjust air campaign in war against ISIS
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Defense Secretary Ash Carter is currently reviewing different options to speed up the campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, including adjusting the air campaign, the Pentagon said Monday.   

“It could be everything again from additional trainers to more engineering equipment, perhaps to adjustments in the air campaign,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said at a defense briefing on Monday. 

“The Secretary, as you know, is looking to take advantage of opportunities, and I think I want to just make sure that…you know, things that could change in the future, that part of that would be the air campaign, not just efforts on the ground,” he added. 

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Cook said the adjustment could come in the form of better targeting, due in part to “substantially” improved intelligence since the beginning of the campaign.

An earlier adjustment led the U.S. to target oil infrastructure and assets used by ISIS to finance its operations. The U.S.-led coalition has also been increasingly targeting senior ISIS leaders. 

“The intelligence picture for us in terms of our targeting has improved substantially since the beginning of the — the coalition air campaign, and every week, every month, we get a new range of targets. We get new information, particularly from people on the ground,” he said. 

The U.S. earlier this year sent in about 200 U.S. special operations forces into Iraq, known as the Expeditionary Task Force, to conduct raids unilaterally and with Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces. There are also about 50 U.S. special operations forces in Syria. Other members of the coalition also have special operations forces in Iraq and Syria. 

Cook also said the pace of the air campaign could be increased if foreign partners contribute more air assets. 

“Every little bit helps,” he said. “And certainly, I think it's fair to say that if countries were willing to provide additional assets, that that could give us an opportunity to increase the tempo.” 

“And it could also allow for, again, greater participation by certain countries could mean adjustments in which units, U.S. units are flying, that sort of thing,” he said. “So it's moving pieces and putting all those pieces together into a single coherent campaign.” 

“So it's an adjustment that's been ongoing, but one, just an example of how the operations could change moving forward,” he said.