Air Force needs more bombs to combat ISIS

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Department of Defense posts daily updates highlighting the most recent air strikes against ISIS and the military’s assets in Syria and Iraq.

Recently, the DoD announced U.S. and coalition airstrikes had killed 10 ISIS leaders between Dec. 7 and 27. Those deaths included Syria-based Charaffe al Mouadan, who Army spokesman Col. Steve Warren said was “planning additional attacks against the West,” and is linked to the cell responsible for the November terrorist attacks in Paris.

On New Year’s Eve, the DoD announced that seven drone bombings had destroyed ISIS vehicles and buildings and wounded several fighters in Syria on Dec. 31. Another 17 airstrikes did similar damage in Iraq, the DoD reported.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James recently told USA Today the Air Force is “in the business of killing terrorists and business is good.”

A little too good, apparently.

While reiterating that the current supply is enough to continue ongoing combat operations against ISIS, the Air Force said it will need more funding in upcoming budget years to properly replenish its munitions stockpile.

Ed Gulick, an Air Force spokesman at the Pentagon, said the agency has used more munitions than initially expected when crafting past budgets, an overexpenditure largely linked the combat operations against ISIS.

“As we have gone through the budget process, for years we have cut … the number of munitions we have,” Gulick said in an email. “The expenditures that we have need to be addressed. It’s about funding replenishment going forward.”

Gulick said it takes approximately two to four years to replenish a weapon that has been expended.

“The issue is how does the stock get replenished as we go forward?” Gulick said.

Lt. Col. Chris Karns, an Air Force spokesman, told USA Today that most of the munitions used so far against ISIS have come from U.S.-based depots.

James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh have both said the force is beginning to work on a long-term funding plan.

Hill Air Force Base maintains the F-22 Raptor, the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Predator, all of which have been used to drop bombs on ISIS targets. The base also has units dedicated to munitions.

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