Wednesday 2 December 2015

Here's a prediction.

The hacks of SW1 will get all excited about the new wave of airstrikes. Private clinical polling will tell the PM that support will collapse soon as the public has caught up with what has just been done in their name. Consequently the scale of the missions will be drawn down quite soon.

What we'll then see after the first wave of raids is a dispersal of ISIS forces, very well disguised from satellites and recon flights. The choice targets will be much harder to find and hit. Public scrutiny will be extremely close so the subsequent operations will be so risk averse that the abort rate will be over 60%. From the air, they won't be able to tell ISIS fighters from civilians.

We will waste quite a lot of airframe hours with sorties landing with no munitions launched. What we will then see is a massive inflation of operational costs as spares have to be fabricated from new. At this point the RAF will be telling the MoD that if they want to avoid a capability gap then they will have to reduce the mission times. Using up all the Tonka spares leaves us with nothing until Eurofighter weapons delivery systems are working. 2017 maybe?

Then the Americans will get snotty that they have to budge their scheduling around to slot the Brits in to add no capability they don't have already, and privately they will be taking the piss out of us while the French won't give a flying fig.

We will step out of the way and instead do loiter missions comprising of sixty minute slots where we may get to pop off a brimstone missile or two if we get some half decent intelligence from the ground. Pretty soon, everyone will have forgotten we are over there, the media will be bored of reporting it and then we'll just phase out strike missions, unless there is a terrorist attack on European soil in which case they will keep up the charade.

Eager to climb down, the government will invent a particular objective and then miraculously claim it has met that objective, saying that it can do more with intelligence assets for the coalition, launching surveillance sorties from aircraft we leased from America. What we should have done in the first place.

We'll be able to say we stood up with France to "defeat ISIS" when in reality all we've done is dispersed them until the next window of opportunity for a surge. Far from actually winning the peace, they'll form the rump of a new body along the lines of Hezbollah, so even if Assad wins the day his authority won't extend to territory where the airspace is controlled by the west.

Because there will be no satisfactory reckoning, there will instead be a low grade civil war that rages for decades much like Lebanon with daily suicide bombings and political assassinations.

We probably won't end up killing many civilians because our operations will be largely ineffectual, and when there are no observers on the ground, who's counting anyway?

I'm not sure about the exact details but we can say that it will be a risible show of force that will demonstrate privately to our allies that we are a waste of space, and most participants will call the whole damn thing a farce. The politicians though will walk away self-satisfied that they have done the right thing, and will applaud themselves for their strength and unity. Medals will be handed out by the dozen to bemused aircrew.

Meanwhile the public will be none the wiser because nobody in the media has the military literacy to understand what is going on and hacks will take MoD press releases as gospel. Meanwhile, us "ranting bloggers" will be nose deep in NATO reports and procurement orders showing the media up for the worthless hacks they are.

What nobody will clock is that the really evil bastards who did the really bad things will vanish without a trace and will never be held accountable for what they did.

Does that sound about right? Place your bets now.

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