It’s hard to keep Obama’s ISIS strategy straight. In August of 2014, after the Islamists had spread like cockroaches throughout Syria and Iraq, he admitted that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to deal with the crisis. It took the spectacle of ISIS militants brutally beheading two Americans on video for our commander-in-chief to announce a strategy in September of 2014. The U.S. objective was to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the terrorist group with airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, but with no boots on the ground.
I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” the president said from the White House. “This is a core principle of my presidency: If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
By May of 2015, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was claiming that their strategy had been “successful overall” even as the Jihadis were seizing more territory — including major strategic cities in Syria and Iraq. A top Obama administration official echoed those sentiments last week, when he announced that U.S. airstrikes to date have killed 10,000 ISIS militants! – or about 1/3 of their fighting force.
There are, however, some doubting Thomases out there questioning that number:
Conservatively, experts said that if 10,000 ISIS fighters were indeed killed, at least 20,000 could be wounded. If those estimates are roughly correct, that would mean 30,000 ISIS fighters have been injured or sent to their deaths.
According to intelligence community estimates, there are somewhere between 21,500 and 31,000 ISIS fighters on the battlefield.
With that, the numbers left officials scrambling to explain how nearly every ISIS fighter could potentially be wounded or killed—and yet so potent. By midweek, some Pentagon officials said that they believe ISIS is able to replace every dead fighter with a fresh one.
After all of this success in “degrading and destroying” ISIS, it’s a bit surprising to hear President Obama admitting at a press conference in Germany today that he does not yet have a “complete strategy” to defeat ISIS, as our own Bridget Johnson reported here earlier today.
“When a finalized plan is presented to me by the Pentagon, then I will share it with the American people,” said Obama. “We don’t yet have a complete strategy because it requires commitments on the part of the Iraqis as well about how recruitment takes place, how that training takes place. So the details of that are not yet worked out.”