American and Russian forces in Syria have been tip toeing around each other for a year now.
A few days ago, it almost got really serious. Last week, American F-18s, launched from a carrier in the Mediterranean, tried and failed to stop Russian jets from bombing U.S.-backed forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
The Russian SU-34 Fullback bombers, an advanced, large, dual seat aircraft, struck American-backed forces garrisoned on the Syrian side of the Jordanian border.
The U.S. Navy immediately launched F-18 Hornet air-to-air fighter aircraft and the Russian bombers left the area. The American pilots communicated directly with the Russian aircraft during the shotless engagement.
However, as soon as the American planes departed to refuel, the Russian jets returned and bombed the facility again, killing more first responders on the ground in addition to those killed or wounded in the first strike.
The Obama administration expressed “great concern” over the incident.
“Department officials expressed strong concerns about the attack on the coalition-supported counter-ISIL forces at the At Tanf garrison, which included forces that are participants in the cessation of hostilities in Syria, and emphasized that those concerns would be addressed through ongoing diplomatic discussions on the cessation of hostilities,” Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook explained in a statement, reported The Daily Beast.
“Regarding safety, department officials conveyed that Russia’s continued strikes at At Tanf, even after U.S. attempts to inform Russian forces through proper channels of on-going coalition air support to the counter-ISIL forces, created safety concerns for U.S. and coalition forces,” Cook continued. “Department officials requested Russian responses to address those concerns.”
Frankly, there are several very troubling issues with this incident.
The first is that American aircraft in the region could not hold air superiority over the target for very long. President Obama sent two aircraft carriers to the Med to make a point and beat his chest in front of Russian President Vladimir Putin. It looks like Putin beat back by killing American backed forces, an in-your-face rejection of American military superiority. This makes Putin look really good and strong to his own population and that of the world.
How is it that two aircraft carriers could not deal with this situation? Was it rules of engagement? Was it interference from the National Security staff? Was it that the U.S. military is just worn out? Was it just bad luck? Something smells in Denmark, or Syria.
The fact that Russia just showed this administration who is boss in the Middle East is extremely disturbing and not being talked about in the media. It’s good there is only a few months left of the Obama presidency.
This article first appeared on L. Todd Wood’s Threat Assessment via The Washington Times.
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