60 Minutes traveled to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar to take a brief look inside the 14 month-old air war against ISIS over Iraq and Syria. While this wasn’t as detailed a report on the campaign as many would have liked, the piece did delve into its growing costs for the United States.
Watch the piece here and make sure to watch the overtime segments as well:
During one of the overtime segments, an officer at Al Udeid’s CAOC stated that allied aircraft are guzzling roughly 4,000,000 pounds, or 588,000 gallons of jet fuel a day, with 198 aerial refueling contacts being made. The officer went on to claim that such a figure is roughly equivalent to three NASCAR seasons worth of fuel. This fuel bill is clearly a major contributor to the cost to sustain the air war, which was stated to be $10 million daily.
The piece also stated that over 25,000 American bombs have been dropped during the campaign so far. Considering that the vast majority of these were precision guided weapons, ranging from $20,000 on up, that is number represents a huge monetary figure.
There were also a few interesting visual set piece moments, the biggest of which was watching a B-1 Lancer striking an ISIS bomb-making facility live via drone feed on one of the Combined Air Operations Center’s (CAOC) giant screens.
Finally, the segment also included a nod to the B-1’s famously sluggish takeoffs from Al Udeid, something we have reported on before.
Unlike some of David Martin’s past military pieces on 60 Minutes, namely his puff piece on the F-35, this one seemed to have a better mix wide-eyed promotion of the Air Force’s technological capabilities and pointed questions.
Still, it was a far from an in-depth report on a increasingly controversial war, and it did not outright question the limitations of air power when it comes to fighting a group like ISIS and their ideology.
The truth is that airplanes can’t hold territory and bombs don’t destroy ideas. Additionally, without forward air controllers on the ground picking out targets to support ground forces directly, something air power can adapt to with marvelous results, the real effects of such a bombing campaign remain highly debatable.
This especially true when it comes to actually destroying ISIS in the long run, not just containing them territorially in the near-term.
Contact the author Tyler@Jalopnik.com