Much has been made about the ability of ISIS to master social media to recruit and broadcast their victories. But the U.S. Air Force is turning the militant group’s eagerness to share on social media into that intelligence that produces targets.
Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, head of Air Combat Command, described Monday how airmen at Hurlburt Field, Florida, with the 361st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, recognized a comment on social media and turned that into an airstrike that resulted in three Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bombs destroying am Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) headquarters building.
“It was a post on social media to bombs on target in less than 24 hours,” Carlisle said. “Incredible work when you think about.”
Carlisle was careful not to share all of the Air Force’s secrets to include the location of the building but this is how he told the story at the recent breakfast meeting in Washington D.C. hosted by the Air Force Association.
“The guys that were working down out of Hurlburt, they’re combing through social media and they see some moron standing at this command. And in some social media, open forum, bragging about the command and control capabilities for Daesh, ISIL. And these guys go: ‘We got an in.’ So they do some work, long story short, about 22 hours later through that very building, three [Joint Direct Attack Munitions] take that entire building out.”
The vignette on how this airstrike came to be offers a broader picture into the intelligence gathering being done by Air Force intelligence specialists back at home and stationed forward. Many observers have questioned how the U.S. is producing targets in Iraq and Syria for coalition fighters and bombers with few boots on the ground. Carlisle offered a window into at least part of the process.
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