Green war: To protect the environment, coalition will let ISIS keep major oil wells

posted at 2:41 pm on September 25, 2014 by Noah Rothman

This week, coalition forces took the fight against ISIS to Syria where the Islamic State not only maintains most of its command and control infrastructure but also its petroleum-based sources of revenue. Ed Morrissey has the details on coalition strikes which for the first time targeted mobile petroleum refineries under ISIS control.

“[CBS News reporter David] Martin says 12 small-scale oil refineries were hit in the eastern desert of Syria,” a CBS report revealed. “According to the Pentagon, the refineries produced between 300 and 500 barrels of petroleum a day, which ISIS used to power its own vehicles and to sell on the black market, bringing in up to $2 million every day in revenue.”

So, one would expect that revenue stream to have been vitiated if not entirely destroyed, right? Not so fast.

“Officials said the strikes wouldn’t target fixed oil fields, a precaution intended to minimize the potential for environmental damage,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. “The U.S. instead targeted small capacity mobile refineries used by Islamic State around northeastern Raqqa province and other locations in eastern Syria, officials said.”

The modular refineries produce between 300 and 500 barrels of refined oil a day, the defense department said in a statement. The military said that initial indications were that the strikes were successful. The make-shift refineries are located near the towns of Al-Mayadeen and Albukamal in the eastern oil-rich province of Deir Ezzour and in adjacent al-Hasakah province, the Defense Department said.

Islamic State uses the mobile refineries to process oil from the Syrian fields into diesel fuel. The diesel fuel is then smuggled across the border into Turkey.

The ability of Islamic State militants to finance their operation not from donations but through oil has made them a particularly dangerous group, U.S. officials have said. In the first round of U.S. and allied attacks, targets included a building used by the group to control its finances, an early signal that the U.S. strategy to curb the group’s power is to go after its funding.

The report seems to confirm what many have speculated; that the initial strikes on ISIS targets in Syria will be aimed primarily at degrading rather than destroying Islamic State infrastructure.

From a strategic perspective, the decision to leave ISIS oil fields intact makes little sense. A devil’s advocate perspective, however, would concede that it would not be wise to repeat of the devastation that was wrought in 1991 when Saddam Hussein set Kuwaiti oil fields alight. The environmental damage done by the Iraqi military’s maneuver was significant, and the move did reduce the efficacy of coalition operations.

The Pentagon seems eager to disabuse the press of the notion that they are conducting an environmentalist war. In a press conference on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman suggested that the coalition forces were seeking to leave some revenue sources intact for the post-Assad regime:

A green war does, however, seem like a contradiction. At the very least, it is a utopian and likely unattainable goal. While we cannot be sure what the long-term effect of striking ISIS oil fields would be on the environment, we can be positive that not striking them will prolong America’s engagement in Iraq and Syria.


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Comments

hahahahahaha a green war, how about a yellow war?

rhombus on September 25, 2014 at 2:45 PM

These people are suicidally stupid.

CurtZHP on September 25, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Reluctant “warrior” indeed.

gwelf on September 25, 2014 at 2:47 PM

The Pentagon seems eager to disabuse the press of the notion that they are conducting an environmentalist war. In a press conference on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman suggested that the coalition forces were seeking to leave some revenue sources intact for the post-Assad regime

Which might be Assad……..unless……..hitting Assad is on the horizon. So, Freudian slip?

Bitter Clinger on September 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Completely and utterly stupid. So long as those wells remain in enemy hands they’ll have the resources to buy weapons and continue to find their revolution against us.

I’ll say it again… This is a false flag war to actually SUPPORT ISIS.

Skywise on September 25, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Maybe we can let them keep their female sex slave prisoners in exchange for them buying carbon offsets and setting up mandatory recycling programs.

Mark1971 on September 25, 2014 at 2:49 PM

To Obama, saving oil is worth more than saving lives.

VorDaj on September 25, 2014 at 2:51 PM

The environmental damage done by the Iraqi military’s maneuver was significant,

Bullshiite. Please demonstrate there was significant environmental damage done by the oil wells burning. The CNN linked article is long on opinion, and short on facts. Not even Wikipedia claims environmental disaster. They do discuss dunderheads like Sagan predicting a nuclear winter if the oil wells were fired.

and the move did reduce the efficacy of coalition operations.

Only in the minds of idiots who can not bring themselves to confront the fact that evil exists in the world.

NotCoach on September 25, 2014 at 2:51 PM

“How to Lose A War In Three Easy Steps”

By Barack Obama

Lance Corvette on September 25, 2014 at 2:53 PM

In a press conference on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman suggested that the coalition forces were seeking to leave some revenue sources intact for the post-Assad regime

There will be no need for any revenue sources for Syrian Christians in any post-Assad regime as there won’t be any left alive.

VorDaj on September 25, 2014 at 2:53 PM

The report seems to confirm what many have speculated; that the initial strikes on ISIS targets in Syria will be aimed primarily at degrading rather than destroying Islamic State infrastructure.

Totally JV. Not even up to a JV level actually.

VorDaj on September 25, 2014 at 2:55 PM

ISO is lucky to have obama

Schadenfreude on September 25, 2014 at 2:58 PM

I move that President Odumbo name Al Gore ‘Green War Czar’ and immediately send him to heart of ISIL territory to supervise our efforts at waging “green war”.

M240H on September 25, 2014 at 2:58 PM

You gotta be kidding me.

forest on September 25, 2014 at 2:59 PM

To protect the environment, coalition will let ISIS keep major oil wells

Oh, thank goodness! /s

LancerDL on September 25, 2014 at 3:01 PM

It seems silly to destroy them when you can just take them. Then you could start making the well pay for the effort to wipe out ISIS.

Buddahpundit on September 25, 2014 at 3:01 PM

This is how you get into perpetual wars: not fighting to win.

ConstantineXI on September 25, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Maybe we can ask the enemy to use green weapons.

Weapons that shoot collard greens!

(And pls don’t forget to cook with bacon – you can die it with Geneva-Convention-approved green food coloring if you must.)

Tsar of Earth on September 25, 2014 at 3:03 PM

‘That’s ЯέțåЃдʒĎ, sir!’

Resist We Much on September 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM

It seems silly to destroy them when you can just take them. Then you could start making the well pay for the effort to wipe out ISIS.

Buddahpundit on September 25, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Are you kidding? Obama doesn’t want America to use oil. The future will run on perpetual motion and unicorn farts.

ConstantineXI on September 25, 2014 at 3:04 PM

At the very least, it is a utopian and likely unattainable goal

And therefor entirely consistent with everything else which constitutes the rambling wreckage of Obama’s “policies”.

VelvetElvis on September 25, 2014 at 3:06 PM

We lost already.

Good thing we’re allowing them to be more flexible. Now they don’t just have to hide among civilians, but they can hide in fixed oil fields.

Great places for storing their ammo, and hopefully they will be sloppy in that regard and blow up both the ammo depots and oil fields.

Of course it will look pretty stupid in 2017 when we (hopefully) will have a leader who will destroy The Islamic State, and they blow up the fields themselves when the end is near.

reaganaut on September 25, 2014 at 3:08 PM

God help us.
God help us all.

pambi on September 25, 2014 at 3:09 PM

I second the “you have got to be kidding me”.

So, let me get this straight, Gina McCarthy is now sitting in on the National Security Council? Or maybe Holdren? Or the NRDC?

We deserve to lose. We deserve to be nuked, frankly.

JEM on September 25, 2014 at 3:09 PM

It sounds like they are not listening the my salt the earth strategy.

Nomennovum on September 25, 2014 at 3:09 PM

“This war is lost!!” – Harry Reid

Electrongod on September 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Obama’s War for Oil.

Walter L. Newton on September 25, 2014 at 3:11 PM

We lost already.

reaganaut on September 25, 2014 at 3:08 PM

Barack HUSSEIN Obama never intended to win this war. Which is why the blood of every American killed in it will be on his hands and weighting his soul.

Obama can delude himself into thinking he’s a god-king but he’s going to have to stand before the real one someday.

ConstantineXI on September 25, 2014 at 3:19 PM

With this in mind, it might be a GOOD thing we have no boots on the ground for this conflict.
Can you imagine how the ROE c/would be worse than even in the recent past ?!!
Absolute morons in power !!
I miss my country.

pambi on September 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM

God help us.
God help us all.

pambi on September 25, 2014 at 3:09 PM

God is the only one who CAN help us at this point.

ConstantineXI on September 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM

With this in mind, it might be a GOOD thing we have no boots on the ground for this conflict.
Can you imagine how the ROE c/would be worse than even in the recent past ?!!
Absolute morons in power !!
I miss my country.

pambi on September 25, 2014 at 3:20 PM

SWAT teams at the wrong house have more authority to use lethal force than our military does in a combat zone.

ConstantineXI on September 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

“How to Lose A War In Three Easy Steps”

By Barack Obama

Lance Corvette on September 25, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Step 1: Elect Barack Obama

Step 2: Re-elect Barack Obama

Step 3: Ummmmm…..

“How to Lose a War in Three Two Easy Steps”

dreadnought62 on September 25, 2014 at 3:21 PM

You just can’t make this stuff up. Who ever heard of a green war. I feel so terrible for our men and women who are exposed to harm. May God bless America.

rjoco1 on September 25, 2014 at 3:23 PM

Require the Air Force to file an environmental impact statement prior to each bombing run!
/

RedPepper on September 25, 2014 at 3:24 PM

To the last (and only) Greatest Generation, I am sorry… for what this generation has done with our nation, leaders, and military.

I thank God my parents are not here to see this.

31giddyup on September 25, 2014 at 3:25 PM

“Officials said the strikes wouldn’t target fixed oil fields, a precaution intended to minimize the potential for environmental damage,”

You’ve got to be f’n kidding me? If we are going to be in a war then lets hurt the enemy, not play paddy cake with them. Knock out their water pumps, electricity infrastructure, fuel supply, roads, rails…wait this is the middle east.

tommer74 on September 25, 2014 at 3:33 PM

We had all this eco-oil stuff when Saddam set his wells on fire and the eco-left cried that the world was ending. It turns out that the God who made the environment thought otherwise.
Now they’ve (ahem) resurrected the big lie.
Of course, this is all political–and “O” doesn’t want to take them out because;
a………
b………..
c………
d………….
e. all of the above.

Don L on September 25, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Use all the people killed by the islamic State as carbon offsets if it helps you sleep at night, barry.

Ronnie on September 25, 2014 at 3:40 PM

In a press conference on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman suggested that the coalition forces were seeking to leave some revenue sources intact for the post-Assad regime

Sort of like leaving a few airplanes around on 9/11…just in case the terrorists wanted to fly home after. Makes as much sense.

Don L on September 25, 2014 at 3:40 PM

“Officials said the strikes wouldn’t target fixed oil fields, a precaution intended to minimize the potential for environmental damage,”

You’ve got to be f’n kidding me? If we are going to be in a war then lets hurt the enemy, not play paddy cake with them. Knock out their water pumps, electricity infrastructure, fuel supply, roads, rails…wait this is the middle east.

tommer74 on September 25, 2014 at 3:33 PM

War is, as Rush has stated, about killing and breaking things. Breaking things to the point so that the other guy can’t make war anymore.

Bitter Clinger on September 25, 2014 at 3:44 PM

stupid.
unless you are willing to fight to win don’t bother wasting money.

dmacleo on September 25, 2014 at 3:51 PM

This is a Farce!

workingclass artist on September 25, 2014 at 3:55 PM

A devil’s advocate perspective, however, would concede that it would not be wise to repeat of the devastation that was wrought in 1991 when Saddam Hussein set Kuwaiti oil fields alight.

Umm, did the United States do that or did Saddam Hussein? What prevents ISIS from destroying the oil rigs?

chrisbolts on September 25, 2014 at 3:57 PM

“This war is lost!!” – Harry Reid

Electrongod on September 25, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Winner!

SailorMark on September 25, 2014 at 4:02 PM

So, Obomba and his Chamberlain sycophants are going to drop all pretenses then, and just embrace the fact that they’re not REALLY going to fight this “non-war” as anything even remotely resembling an actual war.

Good to know we can stop arguing the point.

Meople on September 25, 2014 at 4:03 PM

As if we needed any more proof that “global warming” is a Marxist plot to take over the world economy….

SailorMark on September 25, 2014 at 4:04 PM

In the course of human events, there has never been a bigger bunch of pu$$ies in charge of a country.

SailorMark on September 25, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Gore. What is he good for?
Absolutely nothin’.

Ronnie on September 25, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Good grief these people are stupid. Don’t bomb the refineries, bomb the wells. Why are we continuing the income stream?

Cindy Munford on September 25, 2014 at 4:07 PM

So, we spare the oil fields to avoid environmental damage, and allow ISIS to keep the revenue from these fields. Then, when we eventually drive them back and away from these fields, they blow them up themselves and cause environmental damage. Meanwhile, we are subjecting our troops to a longer campaign that is harder to win (this of course after forfeiting these fields by removing our troops in the first place). Smart power.

billboy89 on September 25, 2014 at 4:09 PM

This is so stupid. If ISIS is ever forced to give up these oil fields/wells, does anyone think for a second they won’t destroy them on the way out of town? So we’re just delaying the inevitable … while letting terrorists rake in tens of millions in the meantime.

BuzzCrutcher on September 25, 2014 at 4:11 PM

The 300 to 500 barrels a day can keep pumping. just blow up the dang convoy daily. They will get the hint pretty quickly not to try moving the oil.

can_con on September 25, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Good grief these people are stupid. Don’t bomb the refineries, bomb the wells. Why are we continuing the income stream?

Cindy Munford on September 25, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Well, since it’s readily apparent that Obomba wants to actually kill as FEW of the terrorists as he possibly can, while still fooling people into thinking he’s bombing stuff, why would he want to cut off their funding?

I’m surprised he’s not already sending them reparations from the Obomba Presidential stash and slush fund.

Meople on September 25, 2014 at 4:16 PM

Uh, pretty sure with all the smart bomb technology out there the Air Force and Navy can take out the ISIS infidels without hitting the friggin oil wells.

No, there’s no scam going on here…

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 25, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Uh, pretty sure with all the smart bomb technology out there the Air Force and Navy can take out the ISIS infidels without hitting the friggin oil wells.

No, there’s no scam going on here…

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 25, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Smart bombs, yes. Smart president, no.

Ronnie on September 25, 2014 at 4:24 PM

Meople on September 25, 2014 at 4:16 PM

The man is an idiot. Do you believe for a minute that his military advisers are suggesting this?

Cindy Munford on September 25, 2014 at 4:25 PM

This is where competent mobile ground forces are handy. It makes sense to disable, not to wreck, a resource if you plan to capture it in the near future. After suppressing enemy around an oil field, airlift in a team to disable the wells in such a way that they can’t be restored by the locals. For example, injecting a grout into the well if it is self pressured or cutting the pump rod – it won’t take much. The side benefit is it prevents ISIS from torching the fields.

deadman on September 25, 2014 at 4:37 PM

OPTICS

Pelosi Schmelosi on September 25, 2014 at 4:38 PM

In a press conference on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesman suggested that the coalition forces were seeking to leave some revenue sources intact for the post-Assad regime

Green war? All wars are red.. blood red. No war is PC-airhead “green” or anything remotely approaching it.

I could almost believe the excrement coming from these ‘spokesmen’ if we had ground forces that could secure and hold those “revenue sources”. But as it stands, there is nothing stopping the Islamic State from destroying those refining facilities themselves if they ever decide to leave them.

DrDeano on September 25, 2014 at 4:41 PM

The man is an idiot. Do you believe for a minute that his military advisers are suggesting this?

Cindy Munford on September 25, 2014 at 4:25 PM

No, I think he’s ignoring and doing virtually the opposite of everything his military advisers tell him.

Did I blame the military somewhere in there that I wasn’t aware of?

Meople on September 25, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Uh, pretty sure with all the smart bomb technology out there the Air Force and Navy can take out the ISIS infidels without hitting the friggin oil wells.

No, there’s no scam going on here…

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 25, 2014 at 4:21 PM

No, they can’t. Smart refers to the precision of the bomb in hitting its intended target, not in selectively determining what is destroyed when it explodes.

Oil refineries are very dense, volatile targets in that even smaller 250lb ordnance will cause significant damage due to secondary detonations of petroleum products and by-products. One little boom causes many more little and bigger booms…

Deadman above is on the right track and illustrates why ground forces are essential to do things right.

This is where competent mobile ground forces are handy. … After suppressing enemy around an oil field, airlift in a team to disable the wells in such a way that they can’t be restored by the locals. For example, injecting a grout into the well if it is self pressured or cutting the pump rod – it won’t take much. The side benefit is it prevents ISIS from torching the fields.

deadman on September 25, 2014 at 4:37 PM

Obama of course does not want to do things right – just the opposite, he wants to what is PC and what he things makes him look best.

DrDeano on September 25, 2014 at 4:53 PM

Liberals conducting war would be hilarious if it weren’t so friggin’ terrifying.

TarasBulbous on September 25, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Liberals conducting war vicious bitch-slapping catfight would be hilarious if it weren’t so friggin’ terrifying.

TarasBulbous on September 25, 2014 at 5:14 PM

FIFY

partsnlabor on September 25, 2014 at 5:39 PM

That is it! I have had enough of all you Hot Gassers and your hatred of Mother Earth.

I am reporting all of you to the government. You will all be sentenced to 10 years of re-education at the Bobby Kennedy Memorial Gulag for the Environmentally Inane.

You will love Mother Earth or else.

Captain Kirock on September 25, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Obama can delude himself into thinking he’s a god-king but he’s going to have to stand before the real one someday.

ConstantineXI on September 25, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Considering Romans 13, and Jeremiah 43:10 “Behold, I will send and bring Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and he will…

It is very difficult to find a more cut-throat leader than Nebuchadnezzar, who took down Judah in the most violent and depraved way, yet was considered by YHWH to be “my servant”.

Isn’t Barry just “doing his job” ?

Reuben Hick on September 25, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Isn’t Barry just “doing his job” ?

Reuben Hick on September

Very possibly.

pambi on September 25, 2014 at 9:27 PM

It is very difficult to find a more cut-throat leader than Nebuchadnezzar, who took down Judah in the most violent and depraved way, yet was considered by YHWH to be “my servant”.

Isn’t Barry just “doing his job” ?

Reuben Hick on September 25, 2014 at 8:51 PM

I’m less worried about him “doing his job”.
I’m more worried about who (or Who?) gave him the job.

ReggieA on September 26, 2014 at 3:00 PM

“According to the Pentagon, the refineries produced between 300 and 500 barrels of petroleum a day, which ISIS used to power its own vehicles and to sell on the black market, bringing in up to $2 million every day in revenue.”

$2 million a day for 500 barrels of petroleum? That’s $4000 a barrel. If it’s a barrel of diesel, that’s $95.24 a gallon (42-gallon standard oil barrel.) ISIS are real salesmen.

“Officials said the strikes wouldn’t target fixed oil fields…”

As opposed to portable ones?

wagnert in atlanta on September 26, 2014 at 5:42 PM

I guess if we can stop them from moving ANY of the oil from the well head, to ANY PLACE they can sell it, OK….. why light the oil field on fire? —- but you know they will do it, as they are forced out of the area.

nonstopca1 on September 27, 2014 at 4:46 PM