Still Significant Intel Gaps on Syria, US Officials Admit

No Footprint on the Ground to Provide Intelligence for War

Reports coming out of Syria that the Jordanian airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria may well have killed American hostage Kayla Mueller have brought new attention to a long-standing problem with the US-led war on ISIS, the paucity of intelligence relating to the actual goings on on the ground in ISIS territory.

Officials testifying to Congress once again admitted they have considerable intelligence gaps, because they don’t have a footprint of spies on the ground to provide intelligence on the war.

So while the Pentagon tries to deny that Mueller was killed in coalition airstrikes, they can’t really know for sure, because intelligence officials didn’t know where she was being held.

As the war continues to escalate, the problem with a lack of information about what they’re bombing is only growing. With official interest in seeing the war escalate, not knowing what’s being hit is not being taken as a good excuse by military leaders.

It does always have to be remembered how little is known about internal ISIS territory, particularly in Syria, as officials often like to claim much more certainty than the intelligence community can really provide, and many of the proclamations of fact by Pentagon and administration officials are really just suppositions that support their own narratives.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of