Friday, November 17, 2006

Air War 11/16/06

Via Tom Engelhardt's TomDispatch, I just learned that the Air Force posts a daily official account of the air missions flown.

Engelhardt is one commentator who has been stressing the importance of the air war in Afghanistan and Iraq.  There is a lot of bombing and "close-air support" going on in both places.

The Air Force summary for 11/16/06, reporting the action for the previous day, says:

In Afghanistan Nov. 15, Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs provided close-air support for International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, troops in contact with Taliban extremists near Oruzgan.

An Air Force B-1 Lancer provided close-air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Ghazni.

Royal Air Force GR-7 Harriers provided close-air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Lashkar Gah. The GR-7s expended rockets on enemy positions.

In total, 39 close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan troops, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Additionally, seven U.S. and Royal Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Afghanistan.

That's thirty-nine air strikes of one kind or another in Afghanistan in just one day.  Who are we fighting there?  Are those Al Qaida targets we're going after?  Taliban?  Local warlords?  And just what kind of effect is all this aerial warfare having on the ordinary people of Afghanistan?  Our Establishment media isn't telling us much on that score.

Let's put some context by using the Air Force's descriptions of the aircraft mentioned.  In order, the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs can carry the following armaments:

One 30 mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun; up to 16,000 pounds (7,200 kilograms) of mixed ordnance on eight under-wing and three under-fuselage pylon stations, including 500 pound (225 kilograms) Mk-82 and 2,000 pounds (900 kilograms) Mk-84 series low/high drag bombs, incendiary cluster bombs, combined effects munitions, mine dispensing munitions, AGM-65 Maverick missiles and laser-guided/electro-optically guided bombs; infrared countermeasure flares; electronic countermeasure chaff; jammer pods; 2.75-inch (6.99 centimeters) rockets; illumination flares and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles.  (my emphasis)

Cluster bombs, 2000-lb. low/high drag bombs, mine dispensing munitions, Sidewinder missiles.  Just what kind of weapons are they using "near" Oruzgan?

Armaments for the B-1B Lancer:

24 GBU-31 GPS-aided JDAM (both Mk-84 general purpose bombs and BLU-109 penetrating bombs) or 24 Mk-84 2,000-pound general purpose bombs; 8 Mk-85 naval mines; 84 Mk-82 500-pound general purpose bombs; 84 Mk-62 500-pound naval mines; 30 CBU-87, -89, -97 cluster munitions; 30 CBU-103/104/105 WCMD, 24 AGM-158 JASSMs or 12 AGM-154 JSOWs.

Same question for "near" Ghazni. 

The Air Force press release tells us that the British Harriers "expended rockets on enemy positions".

And that's just in Afghanistan, where accounts of US combat rarely appear prominently in the news.  And just on Wednesday, there were 39 "missions in support of operations" in that country.  And that's according to the Air Force's official account.

A lot of important news is going unreported about both the air wars in both Iran and Afghanistan.

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