Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | James Clapper | Islamic State | Iraq

Clapper: ISIS, Like Viet Cong, Surprise With 'Will to Fight'

Clapper: ISIS, Like Viet Cong, Surprise With 'Will to Fight'
(Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Friday, 19 September 2014 07:55 AM


While U.S. officials were spot on in predicting the Islamic State’s (ISIS) "prowess and capability" and the Iraqi military’s "deficiencies," there was a gaping hole in the assessment: Predicting its will to fight, National Security Director James Clapper told Washington Post opinion writer David Ignatius.

"That’s always a problem," Clapper said. "We didn’t do it in Vietnam. We underestimated the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese and overestimated the will of the South Vietnamese.

"In this case, we underestimated ISIL [the Islamic State] and overestimated the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. ... I didn’t see the collapse of the Iraqi security force in the north coming. I didn’t see that. It boils down to predicting the will to fight, which is an imponderable."

Clapper discussed with Ignatius the United States’ new National Security Strategy, unveiled Thursday at a Washington intelligence conference, reported by the Associated Press.

At the summit, Clapper bemoaned budgets cuts, leaks, and an expectation that "intelligence can be collected with no risk of embarrassment upon discovery and no threat to anyone’s civil liberties.

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"We call this immaculate collection," he joked, according to the AP.

Relying on other nations to make "substantive contributions" in the fight against ISIS is a first for the U.S., Clapper told Ignatius, characterizing this new "paradigm" as a "test."

"We haven’t done this before," he said. "We have always built around a major force contributed by the U.S. We’re going to try a different approach. ... At this point, I am reluctant to make predictions about how it will turn out."

President Barack Obama has boldly stated he will not commit ground troops to the fight, reiterated during a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

"I will not commit you, and the rest of our armed forces, to fighting another ground war in Iraq," he assured the troops.

But Clapper and other intelligence officials have remained silent on the subject. A senior intelligence official requesting anonymity told Ignatius that it’s really too soon to make that call.

"If I were head analyst, I don’t think I’d make a call yet," he said. "I haven’t fit together the contributions that each of the coalition members might make."

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told Congress this week that he is leaving all options on the table, according to USA Today.

"To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisers should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the president," said Dempsey.

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Clapper did not have a time line for defeating ISIS, other than noting that the militants pose a "strategic threat ... long term given their actions and their statements about the inevitability of confrontation with the U.S."

He also didn’t know when they might have the "networks and capabilities" to attack on U.S. soil.


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While U.S. officials were spot on in predicting the Islamic State's "prowess and capability" and the Iraqi military's "deficiencies," they were way off in assessing its will to fight, National Security Director James Clapper said.
James Clapper, Islamic State, Iraq
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2014-55-19
Friday, 19 September 2014 07:55 AM
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