If presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz was listening to top military brass, he would know that his proclaimed tactic to defeat the Islamic State group wouldn't work.

"Carpet-bombing is not effective for the operation we're actually executing because we're using precision-guided munitions on a regular basis," Lt. Gen. Charles Brown, Jr., commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command, told reporters during a briefing Thursday.

"Daesh doesn't actually mass itself where you could actually even use that kind of tactic, and that's a tactic that is really not effective for the fight we're actually executing today," he said, using the Pentagon's alternative name for the Islamic State group.

Cruz, R-Texas, in early December promised the American public that "we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow in the dark, but we're going to find out." On the campaign trail this month, he echoed similar sentiments.

The term carpet bombing typically refers to dropping large numbers of unguided bombs over a large area, whereas the Air Force tries to use precision-guided bombs — more accurate, and don't kill as many innocents.

Brown is not the first general to condemn Cruz's plan.

"We're the United States of America, and we have a set of guiding principles and those affect the way we as professional soldiers, airmen, sailors, Marines, conduct ourselves on the battlefield,"  Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, commander of the coalition against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, said on Feb. 1.

"So indiscriminate bombing, where we don't care if we're killing innocents or combatants, is just inconsistent with our values. And it's what the Russians have been accused of doing in parts of northwest Syria. Right now we have the moral high ground, and I think that's where we need to stay."

Cruz, like other GOP presidential candidates, has been whipping at the Obama administration's lack of strategy against the group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, but has seemingly also offended other military leaders in his quest for more votes.

"I won't be argumentative, but I will take umbrage with the notion that our military has been gutted," Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said while detailing the fiscal 2017 budget request last week.

"So I stand here today a person that's worn this uniform for 35 years. At no time in my career have I been more confident than this instant in saying we have the most powerful military on the face of the planet," he said.

The Defense Department has reinforced the idea of "smart bombs" in today's conflicts.

The 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight has been working on building bombs since July at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. Between July and the end of 2015 the team of airmen built a record 4,000 bombs; that comes to one every 7 minutes.

"For stability and guidance, our JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions)  have a tail kit, and the tail kit actually provides the guidance system and steers the weapons to the predestinated coordinates that we targeted," SMSgt. Gordon Comerford, the production superintendent and supervisor for the unit, told Air Force Times in January.

In an era of precision-guided munitions, it's the tail that adds the "smart" to "smart-bomb," and contains the high-tech guidance systems.

The B-52, for example, which had been used to drop unguided bombs in previous wars, like Afghanistan, can now be used to provide backup with the accuracy of precision-guided munitions.

So far, the aircraft has not been used in the fight against ISIS — yet.

Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East, Europe and Pacific for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at opawlyk@airforcetimes.com.

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