The unserious air war against ISIS

By contrast, over the past two months U.S. aircraft and a small number of partner forces have conducted 412 total strikes in Iraq and Syria—an average of seven strikes a day. With Islamic State in control of an area approaching 50,000 square miles, it is easy to see why this level of effort has not had much impact on its operations.

Of course, air operations during Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom were each supported by a massive coalition force on the ground. Thus it may be more appropriate to compare current operations against Islamic State with the 78-day air campaign against Serbian forces and their proxies in 1999, or the 75-day air campaign in Afghanistan that was instrumental in forcing the Taliban out of power in 2001.

Both campaigns relied heavily on partner forces on the ground augmented by a small but significant number of U.S. troops. These air campaigns averaged 138 and 86 strike sorties a day respectively—orders of magnitude greater than the current tempo of operations against Islamic State.