Warplanes: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished in Iraq.


February9, 2007: There are several air forces providing support for the ground troops in Iraq. In addition to the U.S. Air Force (which carries out 25-30 close air support missions a day), there are also the U.S. Army helicopter gunships, U.S. Marine Corps gunships and jets, as well as jets from the U.S. Navy. These non- USAF warplanes apparently supply over a hundred close air support missions a day to the ground troops. Note that the air force only dropped 177 smart bombs in Iraq last year, and only fired 52 Hellfire or Maverick missiles. The only air force plane that fires the Hellfire is the Predator. Meanwhile, army and marine helicopters fired ten times as many missiles, as well as over 10,000 70mm unguided rockets and over 10 million rounds of cannon and machine-gun ammunition. 

The relative paucity of aerial firepower has everything to do with the rules of engagement and the desire to minimize civilian casualties. On the ground this pays off, although foreign media use any civilian casualty (or imagined casualties, if they cannot find any real ones) as an indictment of trigger happy American troops. No good deed goes unpunished.