Since 2013 (when ISIL first appeared) the group has lost over 60,000 personnel to combat, disease, accidents and desertion. Most of the losses have been suffered in Syria, Iraq and Libya. It’s believed that ISIL currently has only about 12,000 fighters available, mostly in Syria and Iraq. There are a few thousand more in northern Libya, eastern Afghanistan and Egypt. In all five countries ISIL is under heavy attack and ISIL in late 2016 lost its only major Libyan base that, for a while, ISIL saw as a fallback if they were shut down in Syria and Iraq. ISIL is expected to suffer major losses in 2017, mainly in Syria and Iraq. The ISIL bases in Afghanistan are not safe and secure enough for ISIL to expand or carry out a lot of attacks.
At one time, ISIL in Iraq and Syria had an estimated 30,000 fighters. Now they have fewer than 12,000 there. And they are losing ground.
So much for the cherished liberal notion that fighting jihadis just creates more jihadis.
My position has always been that ineffective use of force creates more jihadis.
Launch night cruise missile strikes every several months is ineffective. That enrages potential recruits without giving them reason to fear for their choice on both their personal chance of survival and their chance to die for a glorious winning cause.
But strike them relentlessly, pursuing them without mercy until they are scattered and their pretense to greatness shattered? Yeah, that is what undermines their appeal:
I'd focus on killing jihadis and smashing up jihadi organizations and sanctuaries, but that's just me. Did we really have a RadioOps information war in World War II to persuade potential Nazis to turn away from Hitler? Or did we pound the Nazis into the ground and delegitimize their ideology with our victory and their defeat? WebOps, indeed. Sounds like it is more funding-magnet jargon than a real part of the war. Be the strong horse and they'll slink away into the shadows.
WebOps are fine on the margins. But never be confused that such efforts can be decisive.
Fill our jihadi enemies with lead and they stop being a threat, both to Westerners and Moslems who are then more safe from jihadi violence, which enables them to win the Islamic Civil War on how to define Islam.