Saturday, September 03, 2016

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat

I see we have taken a step to establish a Precision Fire Zone for northern Syria that I argued for last year when the risk of armed encounters with Russians made it too risky to establish a no-fly zone.

"U.S. forces struck ISIL targets near Turkey's border in Syria last night via newly deployed HIMARS system," Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to counter Islamic State, said on his official Twitter account.

The story says it is unclear if the launcher was in Turkey. But I find it hard to believe we put conventional forces into Syria.

That's familiar:

I strongly support the Pentagon's reluctance to establish a no-fly zone over portions of Syria. I wanted it in the past, when Russia would have had to challenge us. But now with Russian planes and missiles in that air space, it is too risky. But there is a zone I'd like to see: a Precision Fire Zone.

I quoted a proposal from a couple months earlier:

Oh, and given that it will be difficult to safely provide air support for rebels in the western part of Syria because of Russia's planes and air defenses, why not use MLRS-launched ATACM long-range precision missiles placed in Turkey and Jordan? They have a range of 180 miles.

These long range missiles would help support rebels without risking air-to-air combat.

And if rebels start pushing away from the borders? Well, by then the Russians will be evacuating their forces and the skies will be cleared for our air power.

HIMARS can launch ATACM, too. Although if the targets are close to the Turkish border it could be the basic shorter range rockets the system fires.

UPDATE: Yes, the system is in Turkey:

The detachment, which allows the United States to strike a target “with a high degree of accuracy and a significantly greater range,” was deployed to Turkey in support of the US-led anti-IS mission, [spokesman for CENTCOM Major Josh] Jacques said.

Which made the most sense.