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U.S. Military Working to Prevent Weapons Shortfall in Islamic State, Yemen Strikes

Airstrikes currently focusing heavily against targets that generate funding sources for Islamic State

By Robert Wall - Wall Street Journal

DUBAI—The U.S. military is working with Middle East allies to head off a potential shortfall in precision weapons which are being heavily consumed in strikes on Islamic State targets and Yemen, senior U.S. Air Force officials said Tuesday.

A key message regional allies have raised with U.S. officials is the need to replenish stocks of ammunitions and precision guided munitions, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said at the Dubai Air Show. “That’s one we are working pretty hard on,” she said.

Precision guided munitions are “pretty popular” in airstrikes carried out by the U.S. and allies, said U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr. The U.S. is taking steps to ensure it has the right weapons stocks. The Air Force also is trying to gauge future demand from partners by examining their weapons use rate, he said, “to be able to make sure everybody has what they need.”

Potential shortfalls of precision weapons aren’t a new issue for the U.S. military. During airstrikes in Libya some European countries participating in those raids ran low on precision weapons.

The conflict is highlighting the need to plan the likely future need for munitions to assure sufficient numbers can be produced, Ms. James said.

Airstrikes are currently focusing heavily against targets that generate funding sources for Islamic State, principally oil infrastructure, Lt. Gen. Brown said. In addition to attacking revenue sources from the air the U.S. is looking for other ways to curtail funding, she said.

Lt. Gen. Brown on Saturday said he expected the pace of airstrikes to gain pace after several weeks of running at a lower pace. A recent decision by the White House to deploy a small number of U.S. special operations forces to Syria should also aid targeting, he said.

Up to 50 U.S. special-operations troops are supposed to aid Syrian rebel units spearheading a military offensive against the militant group. The deployment of U.S. ground forces marked a sharp escalation in the level of direct U.S. involvement on the ground inside Syria.

Ms. James said command and control centers, training sites and equipment storage areas also have been hit. “We have collectively pushed [Islamic State] back in terms of the territory they occupy,” she said.

The U.S. is also aiding the Saudi Arabia-led coalition striking targets in Yemen. In addition to providing air refueling aircraft, and intelligence, Lt. Gen. Brown said there is a small detachment of personnel located in the Saudi Arabian center planning airstrikes to help coordinate activities.

Read more: http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-military-working-to-prevent-weapons-shortfall-in-islamic-state-yemen-strikes-1447143660

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