6 years, 10 months ago
In Air Power in Small Wars and A-10s Aid in Counterinsurgency we discussed the controversial topic of air power in so-called “small wars.” In reality, the issue of collateral damage is a straw man, as has been demonstrated by recent history in Iraq. Several recent examples involve combat action near Karmah in the Anbar Province, in which both air power and artillery were used:
Marines from Regimental Combat Team 6 observed and engaged an armed group of al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists killing 12 and destroying two vehicles near the town of Karmah Aug. 29.
A group of three men was seen loading objects into a bongo truck from a nearby growth of weeds 11 kilometers northeast of Fallujah, in an area known to be a historical weapons cache site. A second group of four men arrived in another bongo truck, followed by a third group of six men on foot through the reeds.
A team of Marines was dispatched to better observe the scene and a third cargo truck carrying three men waving weapons and wearing ski masks approached the group a few moments later.
The Marines called for air support and a section of AV-8B Harrier jets dropped two precision-guided bombs, destroying the initial two cargo trucks. Marines called for artillery fire on the dismounted enemy personnel immediately following the air attack.
Twelve members of al Qaeda were found dead upon investigation of the scene… Numerous weapons and roadside bomb making materials were also found.
The example below is in an urban setting, and collateral damage was completely avoided.
Task Force Marne attack helicopter crews destroyed an al-Qaeda safe house in Arab Jabour Sept. 2.
Soldiers of Company B, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, were told by local concerned citizens that al –Qaeda was killing civilians behind the Qhurfar Mosque. The family of a man killed by al-Qaeda reported the insurgents went to a nearby house.
An air weapons team was called and engaged the house in two separate runs. A total of two hellfire missiles, seven rockets and one burst of .50 cal fire were expended on the house.
The mosque incurred no damage.
There is no question that the final stages of counterinsurgency involve a heavy emphasis on nonkinetic operations. However, combat against rogue elements remains an essential part of small wars, and these operations can rely heavily on air power.