Fewer Air Targets as ISIL Terrorists Hide
Fewer Air Targets as ISIL
Terrorists Hide, Change Tactics
By Claudette Roulo, DoD News,
Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. – (DoD
News) – January 23, 2015 – Success in the effort to degrade, defeat and
destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant shouldn't be considered simply
in terms of a body count or how much land has changed hands, Pentagon Press
Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.
"What makes these guys different than a group like al-Qaida
is they do have territorial designs. They have governing ambitions," Kirby told
reporters during a regular Pentagon news briefing.
"They talk about this caliphate vision of theirs. And in
order to govern, you have to have territory under your control. So that matters,
in that regard," the admiral explained.
Airstrikes Affecting ISIL Tactics
But the more critical measure of success is one that can't be
easily quantified: how ISIL’s behavior on the battlefield has changed since the
start of the bombing campaign last June, Kirby said.
"We know that they are operating and communicating in much
different ways now than they were seven months ago. They're no longer out in the
open," he said.
Because there are fewer targets, the air campaign has slowed
down, the admiral said.
"One of the reasons why maybe there's fewer targets is
because they're hiding more," Kirby said. "And if they're hiding more, if
they're constrained, then they're not as able to enact the same kind of
influence. So they're changing the way they operate. They are definitely much
more on the defensive."
ISIL forces have also slowed their attempts to seize more
territory, he said.
"What we are starting to see them do is defend, you know, so
they're getting into defensive positions on territory that they do have," the
admiral said. "And they are -- we're seeing them try to protect their own lines
Progress Against a Potent Force
These signs of progress -- in addition to indications that
ISIL is struggling due to the inability to resupply themselves and because of
the loss of oil revenue -- shouldn't be taken to mean that they are no longer a
potent force inside Iraq and Syria, Kirby said.
"There's a long way to go here," he said. Establishing the
conditions that will lead to good governance inside Iraq and Syria will take
three to five years, the admiral said, and eradicating the ideology of ISIL will
require more than just a military campaign.
"I've said it before, I'll say it again: ... The real center
of gravity for this group is their ideology, not their fighters, not their
trucks, and not necessarily, you know, every little camp they set up or position
that they establish," Kirby said.
"It's about this ideology and that's going to take time. And
it's not going to be done through military means alone."
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @roulododnews)
Special Report: Operation Inherent Resolve - Targeted Operations Against ISIL
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