ISIS vs Special Ops

One Half of a Good Strategy

Soldiers from 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) are suspended by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during a training event Eglin Base Air Force Base, February 5, 2013. U.S. Army

With Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s announcement in early December that a special operations “expeditionary force” will be deployed to Iraq, a new phase of the effort to defeat the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) has begun. The special operators will be authorized to conduct raids in Iraq and Syria, and their activities will remedy one of the most critical gaps in the campaign to date—intelligence. By conducting raids, as special operators did in May when they killed Abu Sayyaf, an ISIS leader who had helped manage its oil and gas sales, they can gain troves of intelligence through interrogation of captured ISIS fighters and from their phones, computers, and other possessions. This type of “sensitive site exploitation,” as it is called, involves rapid processing by intelligence analysts, which, during the heyday of the surge in Iraq, enabled operators to conduct up to 17 raids a night.

The raids and follow-on

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