JNN 27 Sept. 2014 WASHINGTON – War planes pounded Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria Monday night in an expansion of the U.S. air campaign against the terrorists, but air bombardments alone are no guarantee of the radicals’ destruction, experts said.
The IS has overtaken a vast swath of territory in northern Iraq in a bid to carve out a Wahabi Nation.
The White House concerns that the caliphate would become a staging ground for the militants to train strikes against the United States, much like Afghanistan to al-Qaeda Terrorists in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against New York and Washington.
The terrorists, who are fighting a two-front war in Iraq and neighboring Syria, have shocked the world and terrified the region with alleged beheading of children and the grisly decapitations of two American journalists, which were posted on social media for the world to see.
But the expansion of U.S. air bombardments is no guarantee of IS’ destruction, as killing the group will require boots on the ground, a choice that seems inconceivable at present, according to experts.
U.S. President Barack Obama has reiterated multiple times that the U.S. will not deploy combat troops to Iraq or Syria.
He may have been well aware that his legacy of ending the Iraqi war is already at stake after he authorized the air strikes against Terrorists in the country.
As for his five Arab allies — Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, who have lately joined a U.S.-led coalition, chances for them to send ground troops remain unknown.
“Boots on the ground are an essential element in any major conflict,” Wayne White, former deputy director of the State Department’s Middle East Intelligence Office, told Xinhua, adding that ground troops are used to capitalize on air strikes to advance on the enemy and seize or hold territory.
“In WWII, Germany was massively bombed, but only the advance of ground forces could put an end to the Third Reich,” he said.
RAND Corporation senior political scientist Karl Mueller told Xinhua that while air attacks can inflict significant damage on IS in Syria, the attack would be most effective if IS, at the same time, is also under pressure from other directions, such as being engaged in combat with Iraqi, Kurdish, or Syrian rebel or government forces.
“Without such pressure — someone working to take IS’ territory away from it — we shouldn’t expect air strikes to decisively push IS back from the population centers where it is already established,” Mueller said.
But the scientist said the IS’ offensive ability has been hyped and that the IS group is not particularly large. The CIA estimated that there were about 31,000 fighters, the size of the Libyan army that the U.S. and Libyan rebels easily defeated in less than a year in 2011.