Low Aim or Intel Failure? ISIS’ Last Stand Shows the Difficulty in Estimating Enemy Manpower by Kyle Rempfer - Military Times
It has been difficult to find a credible number for the Islamic State group’s total troop strength ever since it emerged, and speculation has ranged widely.
The CIA estimated in September 2014 that ISIS could muster up to 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria.
Either that estimate was really low or the network of fighters grew considerably because the estimated enemy killed-in-action far out-paced ISIS’ total strength over the next three years.
But by July 2018, Inherent Resolve said it estimated “ISIS manpower” at once again between 28,600 and 31,600 in Iraq and Syria.
However, coalition officials also conceded that they had “low confidence” in the accuracy of those numbers, according to the final Pentagon inspector general quarterly report for the year.
The fluctuating numbers played out on a much smaller scale during ISIS’ final stand in the eastern Syrian town of Baghouz…