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Iraqi anti-terrorism forces patrol in central Ramadi, Iraq.
As Iraqis fight to repel ISIS forces in Ramadi, the Obama administration is deeming this vital city expendable.
In so doing, the White House shows it understands nothing about the value of Ramadi or even its own capacity to defend it. There’s no better example of US incompetence in dealing with these mad jihadis.
Why isn’t this key western Iraqi city, the capital of Anbar Province, high on our priority list?
According to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey, it’s because President Obama would rather place the emphasis on defending an Anbar refinery, to protect the oil supplies.
As if we couldn’t do both — and then some.
For the past eight months, the administration has settled for little more than jabs when it could have landed flurries of punishing roundhouse blows. According to the latest 24-hour Defense Department report, US forces launched just 36 airstrikes against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.
That’s actually much more than normal. But it nevertheless is the equivalent of fighter-bombers from the offshore US carrier making just one sortie a day, though each of these planes can fly several daily.
And that doesn’t count the vast numbers of ground-based F-16s, F-15s, F-22s, A-10s, B-1 heavy bombers, helicopters and Reaper and Predator drones we have in the area, or the aircraft of 11 other coalition nations. The day before, there were only 13 airstrikes, fewer than a single Reaper can launch on one mission.
Cruise missiles are also in theater. Plus, B-52 and B-2 bombers can strike from anywhere in the world.
Yet with this massive armada and assets on the ground to help identify targets, the administration seems unable to strike more than a handful of targets daily. A machine gun here, a truck there.
There’s been little effort to translate success in pinpoint assassination efforts — such as that which last month may have temporarily knocked ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi out of the fight — into a war-fighting effort.
Which brings us back to Ramadi, a city that’s no big deal, says Dempsey. “It has no symbolic meaning.”
That’s an incredible statement: The city’s meaning is both symbolic and strategic.
During the second Iraq war, al Qaeda in Iraq chose the city as its headquarters, and it became the most fiercely contested area in the country. That’s why I spent two of my three Iraq embeds there.
It’s why SEAL Team Three of “American Sniper” fame was stationed there during my embeds and yet again later. That includes the first SEAL killed in Iraq, Michael Monsoor, who won the Medal of Honor for diving on a grenade.
Many experts consider the Battle of Ramadi and the “Anbar Awakening,” engineered by Capt. Travis Patriquin, the actual turning point of the war. Patriquin — who was killed in Ramadi along with my Marine public-affairs “handler” — got the Sunni chieftains to join the Americans and Iraqi security forces to defeat al Qaeda.
Now those same chieftains and their brave men are being left to their own devices. Dempsey says that, when we get around to it, we’ll just take Ramadi back. Sure, like Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit was retaken — one bloody meter at a time, as each trash bag, dirt mound, and corner hid an IED. And after untold numbers of the defenders were horribly murdered.
In Ramadi, anybody who fought alongside us is slated for torture and death. Humanity aside, what kind of a signal are we sending potential allies?
Not that airstrikes are the only means of support short of ground troops. US allies in Iraq and Syria, including those in Ramadi now, complain they’re not being supplied with the most rudimentary of weapons and ammunition. A single mortar tube with ammunition can be far more effective than a jet flying hundreds of miles each way to drop a few bombs. Others will do the fighting; they just need the means to do it.
It’s now been a year and five months since Obama proclaimed ISIS a bunch of junior-varsity amateurs. There’s no evidence he’s changed his mind or in any case sees ISIS as the threat everyone else seems to.
That’s why only about a third of Americans support his actions regarding ISIS, the lowest figure yet, and 65 percent think the war against ISIS is “going badly.”
With monsters whose tactics would have made the German SS blanch, who have aroused the ire of the pope and even other terrorist groups, Obama is keeping America’s arms tied behind its back. We’re no sleeping giant — we’re downright comatose.