A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

On the Introduction of the Apaches

Up until the last couple of days, the US had relied on high-altitude bombing for its airstrikes in Syria, using a range of Air Force and Navy bombers (including the B-1 Lancer intercontinental bomber) in its strikes on ISIS within Syria. While carrying a lot of firepower, in the absence of forward observers on the ground,  bombing from altitude runs the risk of hitting friendly forces, especially since ISIS is no longer flying its black flags.[Correction: I originally posted they were used at Kobanê. They're being used nearer to Baghdad.]
Only in the last couple of days has the US added AH-64 Apache attack helicopters to the mix. The Apache is a powerful weapon capable of precision strikes at low level, but unlike the fixed-wing aircraft, which fly far above the altitude reachable by ISIS weapons, the Apache is vulnerable to weapons ISIS has, including shoulder-launched SAMs, anti-aircraft artillery, and (though it is well-armored) potentially even small-arms fire. The odds of US fliers becoming casualties is thus greatly increased, and there are reports that ISIS is already circulating information on how to bring down the Apache.


David Mack said...

Turkish and US officials are negotiating terms for Turkish entry with Turkey asking for a no-fly zone to provide air cover. Apaches may be a temporary US answer. Complicated issues for Turkey, which you discussed in the previous blog post, are also the subject of MEI's Gonul Tol in the following article: http://www.mei.edu/content/article/turkeys-tough-choice-take-isis-or-pkk

Anonymous said...

eunitteasecog citizenDare I ask where the brave Peshmerga and their KRG leader, Barzani in all this. It is worth remembering the assistance that these Syrian and Turkish Kurds gave them and the Ezidis in their time of need.

As for the PKK ties of the PYD, I am sure that no domestic critics of the administration would complain about our saving lives by helping a group, the PYD, that keeps bad company.

Yesterday, Turkey arrested 5 Syrian Kurds trying to get to Kobane with their guns to fight ISIS. 19 Kurds were killed across Turkey in confrontations with the police. PYD head Salih Muslim was supposedly in Turkey where the GOT tried to force him to accept their conditions for preventing a massacre. They want the Kurds to work with the FSA which has attacked and killed Syrian Kurds, trying to capture some of their territory.

Laguerre said...

Excuse me for coming late to this, but I think you may have been mistaken about the introduction of Apaches into the Kobani air battle. They don't have the range to reach Kobani (max. around 400 miles), without use of Incirlik. The stories were about the use of Apaches around Abu Ghraib. They're stationed at Baghdad International Airport for the defence of the US embassy in Baghdad. Abu Ghraib is only 13 km from the airport, but I would imagine they're roving as far as Falluja and Ramadi. The US is thinking of the Saigon 1975 scenario - not that you can carry much in an Apache, which is of course a gunship.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Laguerre: You're right. I've rewritten the post.