As Airstrikes Begin, Obama Warns That U.S. Won't Be "Iraqi Air Force"

Since President Obama's Thursday night announcement regarding humanitarian aid drops and his authorization of "targeted airstrikes" on Iraq, CNN reports U.S. fighter jets and drones "have repeatedly bombed" ISIS artillery units and convoy as they approach the Kurdish capital of Erbil.

From CNN:

Two U.S. F/A 18 fighters first struck an ISIS artillery unit outside of Irbil, dropping two 500-pound laser-guided bombs about 6:45 a.m. ET Friday, Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

Later, a drone targeted an ISIS mortar position, Kirby said. When ISIS fighters returned to the site a short time later, the drone struck the target again, he said.

That was followed a short time later by a second round of airstrikes, carried out by four U.S. fighter jets, which targeted an ISIS convoy of seven vehicles and another mortar position, Kirby said.

The F/A 18s made two passes, dropping a total of eight laser-guided bombs, he said.

Obama confirmed this morning, just before boarding Marine One for Martha's Vineyard, that these strikes have so far been successful in destroying ISIS (U.S.-made weapons) arms and equipment. But don't hold your breath for a "Mission Accomplished" moment, stand down with your peace flags; Obama continues to impress that this does not mean war.

In an expansive, hour-long interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, he asserted that the United States had no intention of "being the Iraqi air force." He explained that the embattled Kurdish region is exemplar—"They used that time well, and the Kurdish region is functional the way we would like to see. It is tolerant of other sects and other religions in a way that we would like to see elsewhere."—and worthy of protection, but that otherwise this is not the United States', nor our military's, war to win:

"We will be your partners, but we are not going to do it for you. We're not sending a bunch of U.S. troops back on the ground to keep a lid on things. You're going to have to show us that you are willing and ready to try and maintain a unified Iraqi government that is based on compromise. That you are willing to continue to build a nonsectarian, functional security force that is answerable to a civilian government. ... We do have a strategic interest in pushing back ISIL. We're not going to let them create some caliphate through Syria and Iraq, but we can only do that if we know that we've got partners on the ground who are capable of filling the void."

You can read more about Friedman's talk with Obama here, or the Times' subsequent coverage of the Times' columnists column here.

[Photo Credit: AP Images]