Air Force Ready for Iraq

The Air Force is ready to provide a range of capabilities for military action in Iraq, if asked, service Secretary Deborah Lee James told defense writers on Wednesday. The US military is “always planning” for war contingencies and “planning is ongoing” for various kinds of military action should President Obama decide to intervene in Iraq, but no decisions have been made, she said during a media roundtable in Washington, D.C. James identified various Air Force “assets stationed in the Middle East” to include F-15E, F-16, and F-22 fighters, A-10 ground-attack jets, KC-135 tankers, C-17 and C-130 transports, and remotely piloted aircraft, totaling about 90 to 100 airplanes. They are there either as part of normal rotations, for Afghanistan duty, or for exercises, she said. “So we have a variety of assets already over there … and of course, we have others that could be moved in a fairly short period of time, should that be asked of us,” said James, adding that the Air Force would be able to “fight tonight,” within “hours, not days or weeks.” James said she knew of no restrictions placed on the basing or use of Air Force assets by nations that host them in the area. But if permission has to be negotiated, “I’m confident the top people” charged with planning action “are addressing those matters,” she said.