Running the Numbers on OIR

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told members of the House Appropriations Committee’s defense panel on Feb. 27 that the air campaign against ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria has about $1 billion since its beginning in August. The Air Force has flown between 60 and 70 percent of all Operation Inherent Resolve sorties and 90 percent of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sorties. However, some 15 nations are contributing to the air campaign in some fashion, she added. Of the 600 aircraft participating in OIR, roughly 300 are USAF assets, she said. Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, who testified alongside James, added that coalition members are flying between 25 and 30 percent of combat sorties, “depending on the strike areas” in Syria or Iraq. “The coordination (between the US and its allies) is outstanding,” Welsh said, and though the campaign is not a “huge effort” on par with the first Gulf War, ISIS is no longer massing forces, and is retrenching in defensive structures, which shows that “airpower is having an influence at this level.” (See also With the Raptors Over Syria from the February issue of Air Force Magazine.)