Balad, which currently conducts 10,000 air operations a week, is strengthening runways to handle the increase in air activity. Col. David Reynolds told the AP, "We would like to get to be a field like Langley, if you will." The Langley field in Virginia is one of the Air Force's biggest and most sophisticated airfields.
The Air Force certainly appears to be settling in for a long war. "Until we can determine that the Iraqis have got their air force to significant capability," says Lt Gen. Gary North, the regional air commander, "I think the coalition will be here to support that effort."
The Iraqi air force is virtually non-existent. It has no combat aircraft and only a handful of transports.
Improving the runways has allowed the Air Force to move B1-B bombers from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Balad, where the big aircraft have been carrying out daily strikes.
Airstrikes are disaestrous to counterinsurgency efforts for both the practical collatoral damage reasoning, and the more important moral dimensions of reinforcing the moral authority of those who resist the air strikes as it is a struggle that is framed in a culturally appropriate David v. Goliath... and who wants Goliath to win. The US Air Force will continue to expand operations as the US military is still institutionally stuck in the victory=blowing the most shit up paradigm and the US Air Force, especially the heavy bomber force is very good at that metric.