August 21, 2014

Why US Special Forces failed to rescue James Foley

By Paul Scharre

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Journalist(s) Anna Mulrine

WASHINGTON — The failed attempt to rescue journalist James Foleybefore he was killed by Islamic State militants – and the ongoing efforts to track down other American hostages before it’s too late – illustrate a glaring shortcoming in US military capabilities: that good US military intelligence on these militant groups is in short supply. 

Although the Pentagon greenlighted the deployment of Special Operations Forces (SOF) to Syria – along with the US military’s most high-tech air and ground components – the mission did not result in a rescue. 

“Unfortunately, the mission was not successful, because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, Pentagon press secretary, said in a statement Wednesday evening.

Even so, defense officials sought to put a positive spin on the mission. “This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a briefing with reporters Thursday afternoon. “But the hostages were not there.” 

The Pentagon’s unusual confirmation of a failed Special Forces mission – made at the behest of the White House – was in large part an effort to reassure the American public that the United States has not sat idly by during the meteoric rise of the Islamic State (IS). 

Read the full article at The Christian Science Monitor. 

  • Paul Scharre

    Senior Fellow and Director, Technology and National Security Program

    Paul Scharre is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Technology and National Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. From 2008-2013, Mr. Scharre worked in t...