Air Power Crucial to Counterterrorism Fight

Setting limited goals and using airpower to help achieve them is a winning strategy against terrorism, Michael Sheehan told the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. In military operations against terrorist organizations, “aviation is a game changer,” said Sheehan, who is distinguished chair at the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Going forward, the US should “expand aviation” and “keep the footprint of ground troops limited,” in the war against ISIS and al Qaeda, said Sheehan, who also is a former Army special operations officer and was Ambassador-at-Large for Counterterrorism from 1998-2000. When committee members pressed him on Army Gen. John Nicholson’s recent testimony that more troops are needed for the fight in Afghanistan, Sheehan said, “I’ve never met a field commander who didn’t want more troops.” Instead, he recommended the US “keep our objectives fairly narrow so we don’t exhaust ourselves.” He said the A-10 had performed particularly well in counterterrorism conflict and that the US should provide such systems “to our allies” as well. He said the real mistake in the war in Afghanistan was not the level of ground troops, but the failure to adequately build up the Afghan Air Force.