Just-released CIA intelligence says the jihadist army controlled by the Islamic State may be more than three times the size stated in earlier estimates. The Associated Press reports:
A CIA spokesman says a new intelligence assessment estimates that the Islamic State group can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, up from a previous figure of 10,000.
A CIA spokesman says the ISIS fighting force has swelled for two main reasons:
…the new total reflects stronger recruitment by the extremist group since June following battlefield successes and the group’s declaration of a caliphate. He says the revised number also reflects “greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence.”
As Western Journalism has reported, the jihadist movement has been successful in recruiting a number of young fighters from the United States and European countries, apparently drawn to the cause of creating a caliphate because of a perceived “quest for glory.”
So, what does this dramatically revised estimate of the strength of ISIS mean for the Obama administration’s newly stated strategy for defeating the terror group? A number of experts say the president’s plan will inevitably fail unless he does what he has vowed not to do — put U.S. boots on the ground — send ground troops into the heart of the fight.
The Washington Times reports that a number of national security experts warn that Obama’s strategy is doomed from the start.
Trying to uproot and destroy the Islamic State’s army of terrorists in Iraq without American ground troops, as President Obama promoted Wednesday night, is doomed to failure, national security experts say.
At the least, the president needs to get ground troops closer to the fight, say some politicians and analysts. He should introduce special operations units to advise and join the Iraqis on hunt-and-kill missions against Islamic State leaders, as well as insert controllers to point out targets for warplanes.
Among those who argue that President Obama’s plan is naive and inadequate are the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, current and former Army officers, and former CIA analyst and counterterrorism official Larry Johnson.
“What a waste of time,” said [Johnson]. “We have not learned a thing in 80 years. Trying to uproot and destroy the Islamic State’s army of terrorists in Iraq without [The Islamic State] is an army. The air power is not going to get the job done. Until you put troops in and kill these guys, they’re going to continue. They adjust to tactics. They meld into [the] civilian population.
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