The surprise decision to pull U.S. troops from northern Syria will hurt U.S. intelligence-gathering, erode U.S.credibility, and help ISIS regrow, says retired 3 star Michael Nagata. Nagata, who retired in August, has served as the Joint Staff’s deputy director of special ops and counterterrorism; commanded Special Operations Command Central, or SOCCENT, and played a key role in the Pentagon’s early efforts to train and equip the Syrian Democratic Forces to fight ISIS. He also worked as the head of the Directorate of Strategic Operational Planning at the National Counterterrorism Center.
The withdrawal would help Iran cement control of the Shia Crescent, which had disrupted Iranian activity across a vital portion of that territory. The question also arises regarding the 11,000 ISIS detainees, as President Trump tweeted that Turkey “must watch over the captured ISIS fighters and families.” It would be almost “impossible to calculate” the intelligence loss that would occur if those detainees were either killed or released.
Says Nagata: “There is not enough recognition that this could go horribly wrong in so many ways.”