The Defense Department wants an extra $20 million to help fight back against a disturbing trend of ISIS increasingly utilizing drones for both reconnaissance and assault purposes.
According to Bloomberg, citing a budget document, the Pentagon is seeking the funding to “identify, acquire, integrate and conduct testing” of methods that are able to “counter the effects of unmanned aerial systems and the threats they pose to U.S. forces.”
The budget document notes how ISIS is outfitting “small and tactical unmanned aerial systems” with improvised explosives. Additionally, the terror group is making use of the drones to conduct surveillance of enemy positions in order to carry out both assaults and plan suicide bombings.
The drones pose a strong security risk for anti-ISIS forces throughout Iraq and Syria due to the ease of acquiring them. David Small, a spokesman for the Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Agency in the Pentagon, told Bloomberg by email that ISIS utilizes “quadcopters and fixed-wing type drones you can buy commercially” for both a system for acquiring explosive and for reconnaissance.
These commercial drones further allow ISIS to strike beyond the territory that they currently control. The drones also provide the group with an asymmetric advantage for carrying out terror attacks throughout Iraq and Syria, which will become increasingly likely as the group continues to lose territory.
Indeed, the recent spate of terror attacks across the globe perpetrated by ISIS signals at the group’s shifting of tactics away from holding territory towards conducting more asymmetric attacks.
And although the Pentagon’s request for funds will only address the drone threat against Iraqi forces, any expertise that ISIS develops in using drones could then be passed along to operatives around the world.