In the aftermath of the killing of James Foley the Obama Administration has ratcheted up the rhetoric against ISIS now calling the group an imminent threat to US national security and global interests. Part of that label apparently entails attacking ISIS wherever they are including outside of current “limited” US operations in Iraq with plans to expand the US military campaign against ISIS into Syria.
Unfortunately for military planners the intelligence in Syria is sketchy. Despite daily surveillance flights on the Iraq-Syria border as well as drones going in and out of the country, US intelligence on ISIS leaders and operations is weak.
[S]enior U.S. intelligence and military officials — speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive operations — said American spy agencies have not yet assembled the capabilities that would be needed to target Islamic State leaders and provide reliable-enough intelligence to sustain a campaign of strikes…
A senior U.S. intelligence official said that “it would probably take some number of months to really build up the necessary intelligence architecture” to expand the U.S. air campaign underway in Iraq against Islamic State positions in Syria. “This is not going to end anytime soon.”
The intelligence timeline seems well behind the political timeline, sound familiar? Though it will be interesting to see the intellectual contortions necessary to publicly justify helping the red line-crossing Assad government. Previously President Barack Obama wanted Congress to give him authority to bomb Assad, now he is just “consulting” with Congress to bomb insider Syria.
Whether ISIS is an imminent threat is also an open question. The reality is ISIS’ goal is to build a caliphate in the Middle East, the more the US gets in the way the greater the antagonism and belligerence between the two forces will be. The killing of Foley occurred in response to the US killing ISIS forces with bombing strikes in Iraq.
But look on the bright side, President Obama finally found a way to get US forces into the Syrian Civil War.