After President Barack Obama announced that the United States, in conjunction with other allies and partners, will be launching airstrikes and military action in Iraq and Syria, one of the greatest issues that came along was that one of intelligence. The United States has relatively weak intelligence sources and infrastructure in this region, and as a result has found itself in a much bigger problem than previously perceived.
A, recently introduced, CIA assessment pegs the number of ISIS militants between two times to more than three times previous estimates. To be precise, according to a CIA spokesperson, the Islamic State of Syria and Levant “can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.” This comes in as stark contrast to previous estimates of 10,000 ISIS militants by U.S. officials. As to how ISIS grew in numbers, is a mystery, and it is unclear as to whether the increased numbers include fighters recruited from Iraq.
ISIS, the Islamic State of Syria and Israel, has come under much international scrutiny for its brutality, its ambitious capture of great parts of the Middle East. In fact, the group has decapitated numerous individuals, including two America journalists. All these acts combined have persuaded the international community to launch action including airstrikes in Syria, a country torn by an ongoing civil war.
To improve information regarding key strike areas, the U.S. has begun surveillance flights over Syria; in addition, the United States is sending about 60 surveillance flights over Iraq a day to improve and gather intelligence. According to certain U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity stated that U.S. could strike anytime if there will be a clear opportunity or area to strike, however, a broader campaign is not quite imminent.
A Pentagon official, Rear Adm. John Kirby, added more to current developments by emphasizing that along with strikes, the U.S. should also pursue the leadership of ISIS to dramatically affect the group’s standing. In order to supplement this goal, and the overall goal of ascertaining additional intelligence, the Pentagon will be launching “armed and manned” surveillance flights from Kirbil, the Kurdish region capital.
Speaking of intelligence, according to White House spokesman John Earnest, “These targets have been exposed because of the President’s early decision to ramp out intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets that were operating in the region.” He further added that, “By improving our visibility into the situation on the ground, Pentagon planners have been working with some success to develop additional targets.”
Therefore, given these additional developments, it is likely that the United States will be launching military excursions into ISIS controlled areas soon.