He is a former fighter pilot who ran the air-operations center during the early days of the Afghanistan War. He ended up as the Air Force’s top uniformed intelligence officer. He can find and hit a target.
For instance, a U.S. campaign would unleash an airborne armada of B-2 stealth bombers, Air Force and Navy strike fighters, sea- and air-launched cruise missiles, and electronic jammers to blind radars. It also would field command-and-control aircraft to synchronize flights and warn of threats.
Israel has some of those assets, but in much smaller numbers — a combined total of about 100 F-15 and F-16 I’s. That means it could not hit as many targets as a sustained U.S. air war would.
“Israel has one of the most capable militaries in the world, and they have one of the most innovative and creative sets of planners, as far as nations around the world are concerned,” Gen. Deptula said.
“The issue is not whether they are capable of conducting selected strikes inside Iran. The issue is the capacity of their forces to inflict enough desired effects on the weapons-production facilities to accomplish whatever the endgame objective is.
“Yeah, they would conduct a couple of strikes. But the question is, to what end?” the general said.
The task is even more difficult, he said, given Iran’s widely separated nuclear facilities that are “deeply hardened and buried.”
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has taken note of Iranian defenses as challenges to U.S. forces, let alone Israeli forces.
Asked in December how long military action would set back Iran, he said: “It depends on the ability to truly get the targets that they’re after. Frankly, some of those targets are very difficult to get at.”
Press reports from Jerusalem have quoted Israeli officials as saying they will not tip off the Obama administration about any strike on Iran.
The U.S., however, is maintaining a large military presence in the Gulf, including a combined operations center at Al Udied, Qatar, that monitors all air corridors in the region.
What would the U.S. do if it detected Israeli fighters en route to Iran?
“It really depends on where, and what agreements have or have not been made in advance,” Gen. Deptula said.View Entire Story
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