But there is one thing everyone must realize in the anti-ISIS crusade: Given the momentum that ISIS has built over the past two years in Syria and Iraq, it will be very difficult to dislodge them from the region. To actually do it will require a full-scale war.
“If destroying ISIL becomes the near-term policy goal—which seems the likely outcome of saying you are going to ‘roll back’ the group—then 10,000-15,000 troops vastly understates the true commitment, which will actually require years, direct military action on both sides of the Iraq/Syria border, tens (if not hundreds) of billions of dollars, and many more than 15,000 troops,” counterterrorism expert Brian Fishman writes in War on the Rocks. “ISIL is an inherently resilient organization—look how far they have come since getting ‘rolled back’ during the Surge in 2007 when 150,000 American troops were occupying the country.”
ISIS has gone through many iterations since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and is now at its most powerful point as they control a vast swath of territory across Syria and Iraq. What has become a de facto criminal petrostate brings in nearly $12 million a month in revenues from extortion and other shady practices in the Iraqi city of Mosul alone in addition to $1 million to $3 million a day selling oil illegally.