Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Iraq Part 2

At lot has happened in the short amount of time since my last post.  ISIS and it's followers are getting closer to Baghdad as the Iraqi Army seeks to defend the capital and expel the militants.  Today, Iraq has asked the United States for air strikes against ISIS.  Air strikes are popular in that they can pinpoint damage on the target without having to use ground forces.  However, in this case, there are only two viable means of air strikes for the US based on available reports.  As of right now, the USS Truxtun (missile destroyer), USS Philippine Sea (missile cruiser), and the USS George H.W. Bush (aircraft carrier) are in position in the Persian Gulf (Source).

Obviously, air strikes via fighter jets launched from the USS George H.W. Bush seem likely, but fighter jets (in this case the F-18 Hornet) are expensive to replace and the pilot's life is at risk if enemy ground forces have managed to procure any effective means of air defense.  On board the USS Philippine Sea are Tomahawk cruise missiles.  These cruise missiles can travel hundreds of miles before reaching their intended target and they cost roughly $1,000,000 a unit versus $60,000,000 per F-18.  Coincidentally, Tomahawk missiles first made media headlines during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 when the coalition forces defeated Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army in Kuwait.  Should the US decide to assist Iraq with air strikes, it would make more sense if they opted to use cruise missiles initially.

                                     USS Philippine Sea. Image courtesy of the United States Navy

As of now, the US has still not made a decision regarding the use of air strikes in Northern Iraq.      

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