WASHINGTON, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - The US weapons air-dropped for Kurdish fighters on the Syrian border that fell into the hands of Islamic State (IS) fighters will not materially impact the situation on the ground, Senior Naval Analyst Christopher Harmer from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
“The military ramifications are negligible. This was one pallet of supplies, perhaps enough to supply a single infantry platoon for one day. ISIS [IS] has shown a consistent, replicable ability to resupply its fighters in the field; obviously, scrounging supplies helps the ISIS fighters, but it is really not consequential from a military point of view. It’s not as if ISIS was running low on ammunition, and their discovery of this one pallet of ammunition changed the course of the battle,” said Harmer.
According to Harmer, every military operation has some element of what German military philosopher Clausewitz referred to as the “fog and friction” of war. When taking this into consideration, Harmer said the airdrop was a success.
“The US airdrop successfully placed about 27 pallets of ammunition to Kurdish forces in Kobani; as far as we know, only 1 fell into the hands of ISIS. There is no way to airdrop significant quantities of supplies without some of them going off target. Another way to look at this is, the US airdrop was over 95% accurate,” Harmer added.
Harmer also indicated that a risk assessment based on the significant number of IS fighters in the area is driving the logistics strategy.
“Given the amount of ISIS fighters in and around Kobani, it is too risky for US helicopters to operate there flying at low altitude and low airspeed, so rather than place US helicopter crews at risk, the operation airdropped supplies via parachute from a higher altitude. Airdrops are less accurate than helicopter resupply, but they are also safer,” Harmer explained.
The analyst also believes IS will be hard-pressed to convert the weapons package into a public relations victory.
“ISIS has a very effective propaganda machine; they will try to use every battlefield development as propaganda. In this case, I think they won’t get much traction. Given that ISIS has been fighting in Kobani for several months without taking it, I think they will have a tough time spinning this individual development as relevant,” said Harmer.
An IS video released on Tuesday showed that motors, grenades, and armor piercing grenade (APG) parts were included in the off-target delivery.
On Sunday night, several US C-130 aircraft brought weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters in order to help them fight against IS, which attempts to overtake Kobani.
The IS jihadist group, known for proclaiming hardline Islamic fundamentalism, has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In 2014, it seized vast areas across Iraq and Syria and proclaimed an Islamic caliphate on the territories that have fallen under its control.