As the U.S. military continues its war against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), the Air Force is reportedly dropping so many bombs that it is struggling to find more.
"We're in the business of killing terrorists and business is good," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in statement quoted by USA Today on Thursday.
The U.S. has conducted roughly 6,700 strikes in Iraq and Syria during the campaign. Transparency group Airwars estimates those strikes have killed as many as 977 civilians, though Baghdad-based military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said Wednesday that it is "the most precise air campaign in history."
Defense Secretary Ash Carter told a House Armed Services Committee Tuesday, "Over the past several weeks, because of improved intelligence and understanding of ISIL's operations, we’ve intensified the air campaign against ISIL's war-sustaining oil enterprise, a critical pillar of ISIL's financial infrastructure," and added, "There's more to come, too."
USA Today reports that with "more than 20,000 missiles and bombs" dropped in the campaign, the Air Force is "depleting its stocks of munitions" and has been forced to "scour depots around the world for more weapons and to find money to buy them."
Warren added in his statements to press Wednesday, "In October, approximately 60 percent of all strike missions had one or more aircraft drop munitions. That rate increased to 65 percent in November. Overall, the rate has steadily increased since the start of OIR [Operation Inherent Resolve] and is up from approximately 50 percent in July and August."
"We need to replenish our munitions stock," Lee James' statement continues. "Weapons take years to produce from the day the contract is assigned until they roll off the production line."
The reporting also includes a statement by Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who said, "We're expending munitions faster than we can replenish them. B-1s have dropped bombs in record numbers. F-15Es are in the fight because they are able to employ a wide range of weapons and do so with great flexibility."
While the bombs continue to drop, many see the military action by the U.S.-led coalition, which has been joined by Germany and the UK, as exactly the wrong strategy required. As Common Dreams reported earlier this week:
Analysts have repeatedly warned that there is no U.S. military solution to the rise of ISIS, and say, in fact, American aggression has clearly failed. From anti-war campaigners to a former U.S. intelligence chief to President Barack Obama himself, many have acknowledged that U.S. military aggression played a critical role in fueling the rise of ISIS in the first place.
Sharing that point of view are four Air Force whistleblowers who recently spoke out against the drone war and wrote in a letter to president Obama that the administration is "lying publicly about the effectiveness of the drone program."
"We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and groups like ISIS," they wrote.