The head of U.S. Central Command said Thursday that a recent trove of captured intelligence out of Syria is providing a “deeper” insight into the Islamic State’s war machine.
“I think it is extraordinarily important. … It is beginning to provide us deeper understanding of certainly their tactics and techniques,” Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of Central Command, told an audience at the seventh annual Aspen Security Forum.
“It has given us a better understanding of how they orchestrate foreign fighters; it gives us idea of how they are communicating among themselves," he added.
The captured computer data, hard files, videos and pictures was taken recently out of an area in Syria that is considered the center of foreign fighters for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
“It’s a big deal I think, but It’s not a new deal, the idea of capturing enemy material and exploiting it and trying to understand it to help our operations certainly isn’t anything new,” Votel said.
“We recognize this is going to be a protracted approach here. What we have to expect is that they are going to adapt and as we remove their ability to govern and own terrain they are going to continue to move to more innovative ways of trying to conduct their operations.”
Votel referred to the recent attack in the French Riviera city of Nice where a man driving a large truck plowed through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people.
“Unfortunately whether the attack in Nice was inspired or what the relationship is, I’m not completely certain, but I think it is a reminder for us just how adaptive this can be,” he said. “Our focus is on their use of explosives but then they use something like a semi truck to create a similar effect.”
To Votel, victory over ISIS will not come in any one decisive event.
“Success to me … I think what it looks like is holding our coalition together, preventing ISIL from doing the things it is doing right now … and preventing them from perpetrating attacks outside the area which they are,” Votel said, referring to ISIS as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
“I don’t think there is going to be a big victory parade. I think this very much is a wrestling match. We wrestle, we score a point and then we move on to the next moves in this thing. And if you do that enough then eventually you end up prevailing.”