Thoughts on 1Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeha and UAE

Posted: February 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I viewed 1Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh’s barbaric execution video last night and I can tell you from 20 years experience in the United States Air Force, primarily in combat operations as a fighter pilot in the F-15E strike fighter jet, this horrific act by these terrorists will only strengthen the resolve of his fellow warriors and pilots who are currently executing the mission over Syria and Iraq every single day.  I have over 150 combat missions over Iraq and Afghanistan and the threat of capture, torture, and likely execution has been a reality in our profession of arms since 9/11 and beyond.  Our nation’s history is full of previous generations of warriors who have served, sacrificed and endured years of torture at the hands of the enemy in captivity and as a Prisoner of War.  This is the inherit risk that each young man or woman accepts when they volunteer to serve their country.  They accept that their duties may result in these types of horrific ends and yet they continue to serve with honor, courage and distinction every single day.  This act by ISIS will only strengthen their resolve to fly, fight and win this vital war against extremism and they will do everything in their power to support our coalition’s strategic objectives.

If open source reporting is accurate, the United Arab Emirate’s decision to suspend combat operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is an operational decision regarding the coalition’s capabilities to rapidly execute Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions throughout the entire Area of Responsibility (AOR), to include Syria.  Each country must give careful consideration to their own nation’s combat capabilities and the risk of putting their combat airman’s lives in danger as they fly over hostile territory.  These are complex decisions and must be weighed carefully and deliberately by each nation.  We must respect their decision to make that determination and support the needs of the coalition partners to the maximum feasible level possible.  However, repositioning forces throughout the AOR is also a complex task and incurs its own risks as well.  The art of war is extremely dynamic and constantly changing.  Even the best plan is only good until it comes in contact with the enemy and the enemy gets a vote.  The coalition will continue to be dynamic, flexible and maximize all of their  nation’s full spectrum of warfighting capabilities to ensure the risk to human lives is minimized and that we have the best possible chance of mission success and that each soldier, sailor or airman returns home from the battlefield.  As many of these complex decisions is deliberated, we will see the battlespace evolve and hopefully the return of the participation of the UAE in combat sorties supporting OIR.  I have personally flown with many of the UAE pilots during the largest and most realistic combat exercise in the world, RED FLAG, and I can personally say they are highly trained, qualified, motivated and exceptional pilots.  While I’m sure their absence is missed, the mission continues and each and every coalition member would gladly welcome their return.

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