Here’s a discouraging report about our fight against ISIS.
American forces made one of their most effective hits against the Islamic State on Nov. 15, when U.S. planes destroyed 116 tanker trucks used by the terrorist organization to transport the stolen oil that is its financial lifeblood.
American A-10 and C-130 warplanes targeted a group of about 300 trucks near Abu Kamal, in Syria. Given that the Islamic State is thought to have just over 1,000 trucks in its entire fleet, the group of 300 represented a huge target for U.S. planes.
At a Pentagon news conference last Wednesday, reporters wanted to know why American forces did not take out more than 116 trucks. Why not all 300, or something close to that? A U.S. official said the American attackers simply ran out of ammunition.
“There were 300, I think, to begin with, and then you hit 116. Why didn’t you go back?” a reporter asked Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Steve Warren.
“Frankly, the aircraft expended 24 500-pound bombs, and all of their ammunition,” Warren answered. “So they — they shot everything they had and then they had to go home.”
Journalists had another question: If oil is vitally important to the Islamic State, why didn’t the U.S. hit the tanker trucks long ago, given that the American anti-ISIS operation began in September 2014?
“If it’s so important to cut off the oil shipments, the critical revenue source for ISIS, why did it take so long to take out 116 oil tanker trucks?” a reporter asked.
Warren explained that American officials were deeply worried about harming the truck drivers, who were working for the Islamic State but might not be ISIS themselves. U.S. officials settled on a plan to drop leaflets on the trucks about 45 minutes before the raid, warning the drivers that an attack was coming, while U.S. pilots flew low passes over the area. Planning all that took time.
So, after lots of delay, they had the 300 ISIS trucks all in one place just sitting there in the desert. But they only went in with enough ammunition to destroy 116 trucks and left behind 184 trucks.