The US general says a "state-on-state" fight is coming
Brigadier General Charles Corcoran of the US Air Force is fighting ISIS, but he also believes that fight is a "sideshow" to the real "state-on-state" fight which will start once ISIS "goes away".
Military.com spoke to Corcoran in his HQ in the United Arab Emirates; the most interesting part of the report reads:
During an interview in his office, Corcoran underscored, "We're here to fight ISIS," but he also pointed to a map of Syria and Iraq to outline areas as "red," or controlled by the Islamic State.
"It's pretty clear that at some point the 'red' is going to go away," he said, "and we're going to have state-on-state" forces fighting. "ISIS is a sideshow ... but what happens when the [other] two meet? Strategically, when ISIS goes away, that's the real issue."
Let's hope Corcoran is rambling here rather than speaking about actual US plans. The US Air Force is—along with the special forces—traditionally the most war-crazed of all the branches of the Pentagon.
There are very few wars the air force has ever seen and not liked. USAF generals—chiefly Corcoran's boss, Lt. General Jeffrey L. Harrigan—also very likely deliberately sabotaged the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire deal in September 2016 by staging an attack on Syrian troops in the encircled eastern city of Deir ez-Zor and killing some 100 of them.
Corcoran tells Military.com that when US fighters shot down the Syrian Su-22 and two Iranian-supplied drone, in each of the three incidents the decision to take the shot was made by pilots in the air:
In each of the shoot-downs, which involved aircraft from other locations, the U.S. pilots made the call to shoot within the parameters of the rules of engagement, Corcoran said. In all three cases, "defenseless aircraft" such as tankers and airlift planes left the airspace because of the uncertainty of what the Syrians or Russians would do next, he said.
This if anything, means that US Air Force and Navy have prescribed very permissive rules of engagement for Syria.
Corcoran commands the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing which handles reconnaissance, air control and refueling operations for USAF forces devoted to US operations in Syria and Iraq.