Combined Joint Operations Center Keeps Eyes on ISIL

By Jim Garamone | DoD News, Defense Media Activity | April 21, 2016


From the outside, the Baghdad Combined Joint Operations Center doesn’t look like much. The center is in a large room in a nondescript building at the headquarters of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve.


But step inside and all that changes.


Flat-screen monitors displaying feeds from Iraqi and U.S. remotely piloted vehicles dominate the room. Iraqi officers sit at desks in more than half the room. Many officers look intently at computer monitors on their desks.


Coalition officers sit at other desks, staring at their computers. None of them are checking Facebook.


Watching an ISIL Meeting


On one screen is the feed from an Iraqi CH-4B remotely piloted aircraft that the nation bought from China. The screen shows two large buildings in an industrial area.


Iraqi officials learned through intelligence sources that Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters are meeting in the building, and officers have watched armed men congregate in one of the buildings all morning.


Another screen shows the feed from an American Predator with a larger view of the area.


Two Explosions


Suddenly, both screens light up with the flash of two explosions. Iraqi officers had called for an attack from an Su-25 aircraft. Iraqi officers talked the aircraft to the point, and the pilot dropped two bombs on the site.


But the Su-25 carries only dumb bombs, and when the screen clears, the buildings are still standing. Two overlapping craters look to be about 25 yards away.


The Iraqi air force has F-16s equipped with precision munitions, but they are not always available, said an American officer who works in the CJOC. With the Su-25s, “the Iraqis miss as often as they hit,” the officer said.


Both Iraqi and U.S. remotely piloted aircraft feeds show a number of ISIL terrorists carrying various weapons pouring out of the other side of the building from where the bombs hit. They are running for their lives.


The aircraft follow their movements. “We’ll keep following them to see where they go,” the officer said.


And it was back to staring at computer screens in the CJOC.