Do not believe a word you have heard from the Pentagon and the White House about the “success” of the cruise missile strikes on Friday last. A fraud is being perpetrated on the American people and the world at large. Frankly, General Mattis and General Dunford have dishonored themselves by going along with this charade.
If you could go to the CAOC (i.e., the Combined Air Operations Center) located at the Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar and speak to officers working for CENTCOM, you would hear a mixture of disgust, shock and anger from many over the President’s claim of “Mission Accomplished.” And I am talking about people who have been supportive of President Trump. But Trump, with the sycophants at the Pentagon and the Joint Staff, has crossed a line into delusional thinking.
(By the way, here’s a picture of the CAOC courtesy of the US Air Force Central Command.)
Why the discontent?
There are at least three sources–First, the United States fully coordinated and deconflicted the attack in Syria with the Russians; Second, well over 50% of the TLAMs launched by the United States, France and Britain were shot down by air defense systems in Syria; and Third, the pundits (like retired General Jack Keane) and politicians who are insisting foolishly that Russia is a second rate military power and won’t hit back.
Let’s start with the first issue of “coordination and deconfliction.” We have been in daily contact with the Russians telling them where we are flying for almost three years. Who says so? The Associated Press:
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A U.S.-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State-held territory across Syria, launching 24 strikes on Thursday alone, according to the U.S. military’s Central Command. The coalition includes some 60 countries, with some launching their own strikes into Syria. Russia is waging its own bombing campaign in support of President Bashar Assad’s forces, while the Syrian government has its own air force and air defense systems. That means a lot of aircraft are flying in a small airspace, which raises the danger for pilots. In November 2015, for instance, NATO member Turkey shot down a Russian jet fighter, nearly sparking an international conflagration.
To protect pilots, Moscow and Washington opened a so-called “deconfliction line” after Russia began its bombing campaign in September 2015. On the U.S. side, it is run out of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center at the vast al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which hosts the forward headquarters of U.S. Central Command. There, air traffic controllers and senior military officers are in contact with their Russian counterparts in Syria. They share coordinates and other data to avoid midair collisions or confrontations. One U.S. pilot flying missions over Syria credited his safety to it in a recent Associated Press interview.
With this background you can now appreciate how misleading and deceptive General Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in answering the following question:
Q: I just want to clarify on the deconfliction line. You notified the Russians ahead of time before the operation began what you were going to do and what targets you were going to strike?
GEN. DUNFORD: Gordon, to be clear, the only — the only communications that took place specifically associated with this operation before the targets were struck was the normal deconfliction of the airspace, the procedures that are in place for all of our operations in Syria.
Russia was told where we were going to strike. Russia in turn warned the Syrians. Both the Syrians and the Russians evacuated key personnel and equipment from the target sites. Any claim by the United States that we caused devastating damage or destroyed essential capabilities is total fantasy.