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
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
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.
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
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
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.