"The best weapon for killing is a knife, but I'm afraid we can't do it that way. The next best is a rifle. The worst is an airplane, and after that the worst is artillery."Now:
-John Paul Vann
The U.S. military has increased airstrikes in Iraq four-fold this year, reflecting a steep escalation in combat operations aimed at al-Qaeda and other militants.The surge is irrelevant. Petraeus is irrelevant. Hell, the new COIN manual is irrelevant. The US doesn't know how to fight a small war, and attempts to do so only make things worse. Fred Kaplan makes it clear that this is a direct reaction to Petraeus' change in tactics. If US soldiers are going to be put at more risk, they're going to call in more air strikes. Alternately, the USAF could be responding to the threat of their own irrelevance in small wars by making their resources more available. Obviously, sitting in a basement in Toronto, I can't tell you.
Coalition forces launched 1,140 airstrikes in the first nine months of this year compared with 229 in all of last year, according to military statistics.
The short version of the story, however, seems to be that trying to tamp down on harmful, counterproductive incompetence in the military is like trying to squeeze a balloon -- is just goes somewhere else.