Monday, September 8, 2014


"DRONES, Special ops...and 15 minutes." This is a dream I had, which will quickly become a reality.
      In a fast-moving war with an elusive foe like the Islamic State militants, instant information is as important as guns, jet fighters and bombs. Sometime early this summer, U.S. Special Operations Forces launched a clandestine raid into Syria in an effort to rescue several American hostages being held by the group. Unfortunately, one was the American journalist who was beheaded.      
     But the commandos’ information was out of date by hours; ISIS had moved the captives from the target zone. The U.S. Special Ops hit the place like a lightning bolt (undisclosed methods of approach) and engaged ISIS warriors in a horrific gun battle that ended with one Navy Seal slightly wounded and seven ISIS militants visiting 72 Virgins (or is it "Virginians"?) in the afterlife. The Special Ops team was ex-filtrated from the target area as quickly as they arrived after discovering the journalist and other Americans had been moved.
      The attempted rescue, which the Obama administration revealed one day after a graphic video was posted depicting an Islamic State member beheading kidnapped American journalist James Foley, underscores the importance of timely intelligence-action. The Pentagon’s escalating campaign against Islamic State fighters in Iraq depends completely on fast intelligence gathering and dissemination, followed almost instantly with lightening strikes by drones and special ops units, overhead jet fighter aircraft for support, and spy planes equipped with ECM's- electronic counter measures that block the enemy's communications, leaving them blind and unable to call for backup. It's begun and ended in less than a half hour, then we vanish. No more large-scale armored Marine divisions or prolonged, costly occupations.
      Welcome to the new war against radical Islam, which several intelligence professionals I talked to estimate will last  longer than the Cold War. 

     Fifteen minutes is the time-limit goal the Pentagon and CIA needs to set between the instant when critical intelligence is uncovered by surveillance drones, satellites or human agents on the ground (HUMINT)...and when a lightning bolt strike attack to capture or kill a radical Islamist leader or to save kidnapped Americans occurs. Fifteen minutes should be the goal...the time it takes to brew a pot of coffee in the morning. 
     Actually, this time-line goal is becoming a reality. An instant target acquisition -lightning bolt response- exfiltration operation will be the standard for America's new asymmetric warfare response to radical Islam, and it will be operational soon. I wish it already were in place, for early this summer James Foley and the other Americans would have been jettisoned out of Syria in the arms of Navy Seals and the Special Operations units.
      President Obama's speech will be interesting to hear Wednesday night (9/11/14), for he will surely announce airstrikes into Syria against the Islamic State. Americans won't hear, however, what's being discussed behind closed doors at the CIA and Pentagon. It's a certainty that they're detailing plans to "capture or kill" Abu al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and they will locate him via satellite and drone surveillance, HUMINT, ELINT and IMINT.
      After Obama's speech on Wednesday night, I'd advise al-Baghdadi to switch his location each day and night...every fifteen minutes. 

Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy novel series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean".  The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. Contact him on the Secure Contact Form

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