Could this news report serve to explain – in a nutshell – why Prime Minister John Key has not ruled out the SAS forming part of New Zealand’s contribution to the fight against Islamic State? From the New York Times a fortnight ago:
With relatively few Iraqi offensives to flush out militants, many Islamic State fighters have dug in to shield themselves from attack. The vast majority of bombing runs, including the weekend strike near Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, are now searching for targets of opportunity, such as checkpoints, artillery pieces and combat vehicles in the open. But only one of every four strike missions — some 800 of 3,200 — dropped its weapons, according to the military’s Central Command.
To repeat: only 25% of the US bombing runs are even managing to locate IS targets worth bombing. As the NYT explains at length, this underlines the need for better on-the-ground intelligence to direct the air campaign to where the bad guys have holed up. (After their initial flurry of success, the US planes are now only hitting “ pop-up targets of opportunity.”) Well, on-the-ground intelligence gathering is one of the things our SAS forces did in Afghanistan while operating in the south of the country, before they shifted to an urban ‘training’ (and combat) role in Kabul. Read the rest of this entry »