Jordan said it had carried out a second straight day of air strikes Friday, Feb. 6 on Islamic State positions.
The verbiage surrounding the retribution promised for the burning alive of the Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al Kassaesbeh by the Islamic State is impressive, but lacks real impact for battling or even deterring the jihadi terrorists. They reacted swiftly to Amman’s claim that “dozens of Jordanian air strikes against ISIS headquarters in al-Raqqa, northern Syria – and “this was just the beginning” – with a strong stroke.
A Jordanian warplane was accused of killing a 26-year old American female aid worker by striking the building in the northern Syrian town of Raqqa where she was held.
The hostage was named as Kayla Mueller, who was captured in Aleppo in August 2013. Washington is investigating the claim. Amman dismissed it as propaganda.
debkafile’s counter-terrorism sources report that after the release of the video showing the Jordanian pilot’s horrific death, it must be assumed that ISIS is capable of another shocker, the murder of their American hostage to deter the US and Jordan from bringing ground troops into the war.
President Obama plans to ask Congress for authority to employ military force in the conflict against the Islamic State, but has not elaborated on the request’s specifics, or mentioned ground troops.
Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell told US media Thursday that it would take 100,000 ground troops to effectively respond to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But, he said, the will to commit such a large number of troops "simply does not exist" in the U.S. or in Western Europe.
After the murder of the Japanese hostage Keniji Goto, President Obama said the US was working to rescue an American woman held by ISIS, he disclosed then.
"I think the United States would be willing to spend a lot of money and a lot of resources to find this American woman," Morell said at the time. "… And I'm sure that everything is being done, but it's difficult to do."
debkafile’s military sources add that if the Obama administration was serious about stepping up the war on the Islamic State, a first step would be to deploy a US aircraft carrier opposite the Mediterranean coast of Syria for the mission of anti-ISIS combat. The USS George H.W. Bush in the Persian Gulf is at present the only carrier in the region.
Jordanian air raids Thursday night, Feb. 5, after ISIS released the video depicting the pilot’s murder, were the first since Dec. 24 when his plane crashed over Raqqa. This was indicated by military sources in Washington and Amman. In other words, not only had the UAE quit the US-led coalition aerial war on the Islamic State, but Jordan had pulled out as well. Even now, Amman has barred US warplanes access to targets in Syria through Jordanian air space, thereby hampering the campaign.
No more than 12,000 personnel staff the air and ground maintenance crews serving the tiny Jordanian air force's 75 warplanes, of which 48 are F-16s and 28 F-5E/F – none of them new. An air force roughly the size of the numbers on the decks of a single American carrier is incapable of conducting a sustained air campaign outside its borders. To run an offensive of this kind, Jordan would be dependent on the US and Israel for the operational air and intelligence commands.
The Jordanian ground army is also small. It consists of small, highly trained professional special forces units. Amman cannot spare them to fight outside the country in Syria or Iraq, as they are needed to buttress the Hashemite throne and government.
A stunning show of force against ISIS was essential Thursday to alleviate the popular thirst for revenge for the murder of the young pilot – especially among the Bedouin tribes of the south from which his clan hails. The Jordanians may follow up on their air operations with one or two special forces’ raids on an ISIS base in eastern Syria or western Iraq near their border. But they will think twice before plunging into a full-dress battle with the jihadists – both in view of the heavy losses this would entail, and because its outcome is far from assured. It might well end in another tactical-propaganda victory for the Islamists.