tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg March 14, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EDT
>> from our studios in new york city, this is "charlie rose." charlie: admiral mike rogers is here, he is the director of the national security agency and also leads the u.s. cyber command. last month, the agency announced it would consolidate its offensive and defensive operations. a colonel said last week that isis would accelerate attacks on networks. i am a pleased to have admiral mike rogers at this table.
thank you for being here. what did secretary carter mean when he said he would accelerate the digital effort against isis? >> he has publicly acknowledged that we are flying cyber capabilities against isis in iraq. the a publicly acknowledged we are adding cyber as another tool in the broad set of capabilities we are trying to ring together for the fight against isis. charlie: can you explain to me how cyber tools can be used in fighting isis. what are you talking about? adm. rogers: you could view it capability if he wanted to -- we will talk about it much more broadly, as opposed to specifics -- you could use cyber as a tool, how much you have an impact on social media efforts. how much you have an impact on
the ability of a group to communicate. just as we, for a long time, have used traditional, kinect-based facilities, cyber offers us similar kinds of capabilities. charlie: it seems to me that in the fight against isis, it is all in. adm. rogers: no doubt about that. you are seeing that play out in syria and iraq. you are seeing it in isil as a much more broader and global-based threat. we are seeing a determined opponent whose view of freedom and its expression are different from our own and is committed to bringing violence to the united states, potentially overtime. >> how would you characterize social media and their understanding of cyber?
>> i would say that they clearly understand the power of information. we pay great attention watching to see how do their capabilities change over time. that has not been a significant issue to date. oftentimes i'm asked what concerns me. i have said, what happens when nonstate actors who have no interest in the status quo, whose vision of the future is tearing down those structures that have created stability and progress overtime. charlie: they don't believe in the future.
who saw that in the sony situation where we had north koreans engage in destructive acts in the form of the sony corporation. live economic sanctions and the president articulated and if this fails to achieve the desired effect we are prepared to take additional measures if necessary at the time, place and manner of our choosing. charlie: there is clearly some growing conversation and recognition of the seriousness of the president's commitment on this. adm. rogers: as a nation we have been very upfront with our counterparts. we are directly nations around the world.
we say there are some things that are unacceptable. one of the things we say to china and other nations is using the capability of the state use cyber as a tool, to provide that from the government or private companies to say, take advantage of this and generate economic advantage. our position has been very firm. that is acceptable. the development of advanced weapons systems around the world would be of concern. but of the same token, we do not take that knowledge and go to pick a defense contractor and say, here is what nation and is destination x is trying to build.
charlie: what about being the head of command of cyber command and the nsa? adm. rogers: the nsa was created in the early 1950's. it is a much more mature organization. u.s. cyber command will celebrate our birthday in may 2016. we tried to take advantage of the expertise already resident -- resonant to propel this. we knew that they would be very closely aligned.
the question that will play overtime is, is that alignment optimized? we will see how that plays out over time. for now my input has been, given the maturity, and the strategic choices we made by making it dependent and reliant on the capacity and capabilities of nsa to help it, i cannot think right now is the time to separate the two. charlie: turning to nsa, how has it changed since edward snowden's disclosures? adm. rogers: it has certainly made the mission more difficult. nation states, groups, actors now have a greater sense of our capabilities. a greater sense of what we focus on. we have watched that play out in the counterterrorism arena. that is probably where we see the greatest change in terms of target behavior. you can trace part of that directly to it. charlie: after snowden, the people who wished us no good have behaved differently.
adm. rogers: they have taken those insights and said what do i need to do to change the nsa ability to access insight into what i am doing. charlie: have they been able to change their behavior? adm. rogers: it is more difficult in some ways. i will not argue for one minute that the nsa is blind or in cape bull of executing its mission. when you do this long enough, you see how it is a bit of a curve overtime. you lose access or gain access and you have to work hard to regain it. in some ways, some of the trends that we are seeing we knew were coming. the point i would make now is that disclosures accelerated them. you're talking to me earlier about isil, now is not the time where i like seeing some of these effects. we have got to generate insight. we are looking at a group that is dedicated to the idea of the indiscriminate use of violence at any time, any place, on a global basis as a way of breaking the will of the united states, the west, and the broader coalition attempt to
deal with it. the mile is in some ways different from al qaeda. they are very focused on the target, often very large, complex, 9/11 scenarios. isil has a very different vision. it is the brutality and the level of violence they will bring to every way of life that will break the will of the americans and others. charlie: are we winning the war against isil? adm. rogers: this is a tough question. are we making gains in the ground? yes. are we comfortable that where we are is where we need to be? no. have we stopped their ability to generate attacks and threats on
a global basis? no. charlie: just yesterday, they announced the capture of a principal isil operative in charge of chemical and gas warfare. >> we continue to have a measure of success but when you get to this idea of winning and losing, i am leery of -- i don't think that is the way to think about this. charlie: can you define winning? adm. rogers: we often ask what does victory look like? that helps you decide, what is the strategy. what is the end state you are trying to achieve. charlie: so what is the strategy and what is the end state? adm. rogers: the goal is to attempt to dismantle or attempt to destroy isil.
charlie: dismantle and destroy isil. adm. rogers: a new objective you are seeing play out in syria and iraq even as we announce that is one part of a broader strategy that there is much more to it than just the military. charlie: iraq and syria seems to me it is to retake most all, headquarters of isil in iraq, and in syria to retake the city and to disrupt the communication. adm. rogers: you want to roll them back on the ground. the strategy to articulate is strongly tied to the idea of isil now has a physical manifestation of their ideology in the form of territory that they now control. the argument becomes, we are not just the vision, we are the reality. the argument we would make is the allergy -- reality they
attempt to sell and their ideology is not one we would suggest -- charlie: do you view isil as the biggest national security threat today? adm. rogers: one of the questions i get is what is the most important and least important? a couple of the points i try to make as an intelligence professional is that it is not binary. you have to be able to look at multiple problems simultaneously and what is important today will not necessarily have the same level of priority six months from now. that is a challenge as an intelligence leader, how do you develop an organization that has the ability to quickly reprioritize and quickly deal with the breadth of challenges. one of the things that strikes me in the world we are living in now, the number of crises that are ongoing simultaneously.
simultaneity, i do not remember it this way in the past. the duration of those crises, when i was junior, it seemed like problem sets lasted weeks or months. the challenge is now our months and years. we are about to observe the fifth year of the conflict in syria. charlie: it is not just located in iraq, syria is in libya and asia and a range of places where they have successfully recruited through ideology or appeal to something missing in young people's lives.
>> in a way, it's difficult for those with a different perspective to understand. why would you want to do that? you will often hear people say that these are the problems that you cannot kill your way out of. to put it in my perspective, this is about more than battlefield success. it is the ideology, the informational dynamic and the underpinnings generating this. in the aftermath of 9/11, al qaeda was the focus. we have seen isis emerge, what is the next group? charlie: do you assume if there is no isil, there will be somebody else? adm. rogers: there will always
be challenges and threats out there. so the question gets to be, what does it look like? what drives it or shapes it? i believe that in the long run, we will generate success against isil, but the intelligence side of me says, what is next? there is always a next. charlie: what is the status of al qaeda as we know it? the leadership was decimated except for the number two who is now number one. adm. rogers: a broad geographic dispersion on multiple continents. not quite to the same level that you see isil, but you have to a knowledge a broad physical presence. much less effective in some ways in terms of the ability to generate these large and complex plots. but having said that we should not pretend for one minute that elements of al qaeda do not continue to attempt to generate effects against the u.s., our friends and allies and that those kinds of threats have gone away. no one should think that. is it significantly reduced? yes. has it been eradicated? no. is it something we must still account for and maintain focus against? yes. charlie: talk about defense,
too. ciber and terrorism. you combine offensive and defensive within cyber command. what does that mean? adm. rogers: we are tasked three primary missions. the first is the operation and defense of the networks. the second mission set is generating capabilities to support our operational forces around the world. the third mission set and one of the reasons i find myself in new york today is it is directed by the secretary of defense to apply our capabilities to help defend critical u.s. infrastructure in the private sector. this government has identified 16 different segments and private infrastructure is having significant implications for security. think about power, financial and aviation.
adm. rogers: what i tell people is -- charlie: from a nationstate.+++ the sony scenario. you have seen it within the last eight weeks in the ukraine, actors used cyber as a tool to create a series of effects within the ukrainian power grid. you can see the activity, we are watching nationstates develop capabilities designed to achieve effect against industrial control systems, status systems. we are watching nationstates engage inactivity that we believe is designed to generate knowledge about those infrastructures. how are they set up? you've seen these acts of his -- physical destruction. my concern is that at some point this will move from the theoretical reconnaissance to an actual event.
timmy come it is a question of "when" not "if." charlie: have you seen any of these efforts? adm. rogers: i would not say that i have seen efforts to attempt to destroy or manipulate in any significant way. i am trying to be careful here so i apologize, charlie. but i remind people that threat is capability and intent. i'm watching multiple actors demonstrate the capability to gain access to critical infrastructure. if the threat changes we have a real problem. charlie: why is capability and intent predicated on opportunity? adm. rogers: what you find now is that opportunity is so significant within much of our infrastructure. you go back as a nation, most, not all, but much of our structure, infrastructure, computer systems today were not
built with redundancy, resiliency and core design characteristics. when we built it over the last 30 to 40 years, we were not thinking that there is a possibility that cyber intrusions will become a factor. had that been the case we might have opted to build something very different. we are trying to overcome decades of investments made in a very different world. charlie: you would assume the united states because of a technological lead would have a huge lead in cyber warfare. >> i don't want to paint a picture where the sky is falling.
i remind people that this is a double-edged sword. there's all the ability and capability there. charlie: what are the rules of engagement? adm. rogers: we start from what are the set of processes, structures legal framework and policies that govern how we apply force. we call them the rules of engagement. the processes that we have built over time in the traditional kinetic world, firing a gun or rifle, dropping a bomb are built around the idea that whatever we do must comply with the law of armed conflict and must meet the international legal framework and it must be proportional. so someone shoots at you with a small caliber weapon you don't , respond with overwhelmingly massive responded that that
overwhelmingly massive response that leads to a much greater loss of life. that's this idea of proportionality. the other component of it is you must be very specific and discrete. you cannot apply this force indiscriminately. in the cyber world we start my premise that says you need to use the same kind of framework we use in the kinetic world and we need to use it in the non-kinetic world. so we ask ourselves what is the function of a target. what does it do? commercial,ry, private versus public? what are the implications and who are the users. what is the potential collateral damage? we sit and go through all of that just as if we were dropping a 2000 pound bomb in iraq or afghanistan. charlie: do we believe that the russians were responsible for the ukraine cyber attack? adm. rogers: i don't what to get into the specifics. charlie: i believe general alexander said so in a radio interview.
designed to anticipate how the provider would attempt to restore capability given the loss and tripping of breakers. it was very well thought out. this was not something casual. this was not something that someone did over the course of hours or days. charlie: so, you learned something from the attack? you are always learning. we gained more insight to assure they are being employed to help us defend. charlie: something you said that would scare the hell out of me. you said what would happen if our data is manipulated and you can no longer believe what you are physically seeing? that would concern me a lot. you're looking at the screen and you do not know if it is real or
not. >> to date, most of the crime is single activity. if you move beyond crime, and even to some extent the criminal sector, most cyber activity has been to date conducted by states for purposes of espionage to generate insight, the theft of intellectual property to provide economic advantage to the private sector, but you have not to date seen significant manipulation of data. you have seen outright theft. what happens if the penetration is them becoming part of not just the theft of the data but the manipulation of the data so now you're calling into question the accuracy of what you're looking at. you look at the financial sector, it is fundamentally premised on the idea of trust. i can believe the thousands of transactions occurring globally at anyone minute across the global financial infrastructure that you can trust the data you are seeing reflects the accuracy and reality of the flow and currency of money. what happens if that is that the case? what happens if that trust goes away? that drives you to a very different -- as a military individual, i am used to the
idea that i can take a look at a visual display and use geography, color, symbology and starts to make initial decisions about how i respond to a particular situation and how i try to minimize risk. what happens if that which i'm looking at does not reflect accuracy or ground truth and instead the choices i make, instead of minimizing risk and the escalating the situation could potentially impact me doing quite the opposite. as a military guy, i'm like that is really -- you spend a lot of time trying to ensure that you have a defensible system that you truly understand your system and that you have a sense of where the data is in a high level of confidence about the accuracy and veracity of that data. charlie: but you have a way of laying that data against something? charlie: but you have a way of laying that data against something?
>> there are lots of different techniques that you use to do it. there are some things that you can do. i do not mean to drone on, but the data is now increasingly having a value as a commodity in a way it did not in the past. i can, not just sell it but i can november 5 to 10 years ago thinking to myself that there is so much data in this particular repository that it would be almost impossible for anyone to pull it all. if they could, there is so much information that it would be incredibly difficult to generate a coherent picture about what is in that data. the power of big data analytics over the last few years makes massive amounts of data very attractive. so go back over the last 12 to
18 months, you have seen anthem, one of the largest health insurance companies in the net it states and a traded. you have seen opm penetrated. charlie: do we know who did that? adm. rogers: not that i will publicly talk about. charlie: but you know? adm. rogers: not that i will publicly talk about. but you seen this massive publication. >> pulling large amounts out. charlie: the argument was somehow that if you knew that information about somebody who might be of interest to you that it would give you the possibility of pressure and manipulation? >> those are some of the options that you have to stop and think about. >> and also the capacity to see if anyone is part of euro national security? adm. rogers: right.
charlie: it is beginning to be a more difficult world. >> and it is only going to get more complicated. it will generate massive opportunity for us, it will bring increased ease of day-to-day life. but it is a bit of a double-edged sword. the increased conductivity will have massive second or third order affects that i do not think we collectively understand. take the automobile. when you and i were young and i will bill was a mechanical device operated by an individual and the only connectivity it had with the outside world was either the visual display or -- the radio. now the thing we call an automobile is a combination of mechanical and digital features
designed with the idea that remote conductivity now permeates multiple aspects of the functions of the vehicle in a way that as drivers we do not understand. charlie: some of the things we created came out of the pentagon at the beginning. to recognize that some of those kinds of developments which have been so important are now more likely to come from silicon valley and other places rather than within the pentagon? >> the days of the apollo model that i loved watching as a little boy where the government drove it on a massive scale that permeated across many other elements of society and technology is long gone it's one of the reasons why partnerships
between the dod, the government writ large, but the dod specifically and particularly for nsa and united states are so critical to our future. it's one of the days on the nsa side nsa 21, the large restructuring we are going through because we said to ourselves that the future is about the power of integration and the ships and how do we create the structure and ethos that helps to enable that and make it easier? i believe we have got to have relationships in the private sector to help generate the technical insights that we need to execute our mission, but also for things as simple as, we are competing for the same workforce. i'm interested in getting insights from industry counterparts what works for you? how do you recruit and retain people?
how do you train them and keep them adapted to a world that keeps changing that has not traditionally been the government model? charlie: you have to i soon compete with huge financial reward by offering the opportunity to serve your country which would be a compelling incentive. >> we are very fortunate. if you look at the nsa, our attention and 2015 was a most 96% they say you only loss 4% of your workforce last year and i said yeah because our model has traditionally been when you join the organization, the culture and the mission is what powers you. it tries you to want to be a part of it. and try to argue the money is a bad thing. it's important for you there's nothing wrong with that.
the idea of building the future for yourself and family building a vision for yourself, i applaud that. if that's a primary driver for you there are other ways to make a difference. you can serve a lot of ways. there are a lot of other ways. charlie: with only stripped you make to silicon valley, is there an answer? adm. rogers: i tell people that i do not know. charlie: there is, but you do not know? adm. rogers: the engine of technological change is the envy of the globe. it is the culture and the area powered by the power of possibility and yet we are spending a lot of time talking about what we cannot do. i would much rather sit down and
say, can we have a discussion about what is in the range of the possible. you do not want me as an intelligence professional deciding that, but i would also argue that you do not what companies making those decisions. we need to tee up a broader dialogue with our society. these issues are foundational for us as a nation. charlie: the encryption process does not allow anyone to break? adm. rogers: when i hear that i say you're already going down the solution road? i don't know what the solution is? i start from a premise that says strong encryption is foundational to the future. defensible network and internet is in our best interest as a nation.
as the director of acknowledgment it is a broad national imperative and i have to learn to live in a world like that. at times we have to learn to make accommodations on the defensive side that could impact our ability to generate insights on that offensive piece. if that is what the greater good we have to be mindful of that. have to go into it with our eyes open. in the end, in some ways it is all about risk. there is nothing risk free. i will often hear talking about backdoors but i think we put backdoors into structures and all the software updates right now, there are always full abilities in these systems so we have to ask what we are comfortable with. charlie: who can enter that? adm. rogers: the citizens of our nation. charlie: so we need to have
congress decide? adm. rogers: congress is the elected representatives but i would hope we could have a broad national dialogue. charlie: who will lead the dialogue? adm. rogers: right now, what you are seeing our perspectives, neither of which is invalid. charlie: you are seeing hearings before congress and interviews with the principles engaged. interviews on the apple site and the government side. james comey is not doing a lot of interviews. adm. rogers: at times i would argue it is the nature of the system we live in right now. we tend to paint things as simplistically good or bad, black or white. i watch this and i think to myself, white are reframing this
is good versus bad? we've two imperatives. we expect the fbi to defend the citizens of our nation. charlie: i hear that and i have known that for a long time. that conversation has taken place. we are no closer to solving the issue. we have imperatives but somewhere sometime we have to figure out a way that does not seem we are making a lot of progress. >> think one of the reasons that is the case is your finding public positions becoming so hardened that it becomes more difficult to do that. like you i share the frustration. the worst-case scenario for us is that in many ways we failed to address this. we had a major event with a high loss of life and in the emotion of the moment we take a quick set of actions and perhaps we think ourselves further down the road, are we comfortable with that? that is not where we want to be but if we are not careful,
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adm. rogers: correct, i believe that. charlie: there are people today who have the capacity to be successful at it and we have no capacity? adm. rogers: i wouldn't say we have no capacity, but it certainly is a challenge. when you look at the breadth of the infrastructure within the net it states that, as you said earlier, you look at these capabilities in this kind of conductivity how it permeates every aspect of our society and infrastructure, clearly the scale of the problem set is huge. there is no doubt about that. charlie: thinking about the role that you played in our national defense, if i am in a country and responsible as the minister of defense and the minister of information, i will give much
more thought to my cyber capabilities then my nuclear capabilities. i would think that is more likely to give me power to do things than nuclear. >> it will be interesting to see if it plays out that way. there are more nations today investing in cyber capability. there is no doubt about that. in some way there is no rules but cyber capabilities and rules about nonproliferation treaties. >> i would also argue it is broader than just the proliferation machine idea that you've talked about. it's the fact that cyber is a great equalizer. it doesn't take billions of dollars to invest, it doesn't
take decades of time or the dedication of tens of thousands of people. it's the great equalizer to me in the sense that small nationstate groups a small number of individuals with a relatively limited investment can generate capabilities of significant concern. >> that's the policy for him to decide. the primary damage that occurred because of his release was simply that it gave people and awareness of our capability. more than rolling up names and addresses. >> the immediate concern to me was the loss of capability, but i would argue also the implications of distrust so now as a nation we are trying to ask ourselves, i often run into, one of the nsa missions, foreign intelligence tends to get the
most attention but the other mission for the nsa's insurance or cyber defense. over the last decade or so, it has been broadened across the government and increasingly we find ourselves partnering with other elements in the government, the federal bureau of investigation to apply that cyber expertise in the nsa in defense of the private sector. in doing that, at a time when we need more trust and openness, i will sometimes here, we do not want to share any information because we do not want to compromise the security and privacy of individuals. talking about a computer network, i do not want information from individuals that have no -- nothing to do with this mission. there are legal frameworks and place that if we get it, i cannot use it. it slows me down. charlie: can you look back now and say, we are getting
information we do not need? adm. rogers: no. charlie: let me ask a different way, did edward snowden raise any red flags that we ought to have done for ourselves? adm. rogers: i often get that question. i would argue, look, if you believe we are doing something illegal, immoral or unethical, i expect you to be a professional and raise your hand and say i have a problem with this. your multiple venues as an individual to raise those concerns, whether you want to do it within the organization, outside the organization with
inspector general's or your elected representatives, there are lots of venues to do this. the answer is not for any one of us to unilaterally decide that i will decide what is right and wrong and which laws to obey. i would argue that is not a good place for us as a nation. if you believe something being done is wrong, stand up and raise it. i can remember that i had a discussion with my father. charlie: a lot of people did
that after snowden that they thought too much information was being collected and that safeguards were not sufficient. adm. rogers: you had people outside the organization arguing that -- don't get me wrong, we worked in an elected representative democracy. we have to be accountable to the system. i do not get offended when people ask, why should we become kibble and what you do? should i really believe it? i don't have a problem with that conversation. that's a good thing for the nation. challenger find is could we actually have a conversation as opposed to just talking at each other? that does not generate insight or knowledge. charlie: has that conversation taking place after snowden at all? adm. rogers: that conversation has been going on for a while now. he saw that section 215 of the patriot act expired. a long discussion, the representatives headache conversation about are we comfortable with this framework, should we continue? if we do, what should it look like? we have created a new legal framework. charlie: to do your job, do you have everything you need? >> you never have everything that you need.
>> i wish we were in an environment where the idea of conversation where talking to each other about tough issues was easier. i'm not arguing we don't do it but it's not as easy in some ways and it takes a lot more effort. that doesn't mean i want anybody to write in either one of my jobs charlie: messages, that is more your responsibility than others because you have more reasons to say no so at the same time you have more opportunity to say, yes, i welcome that dialogue and we are prepared to do that. if you do that, you not have talked this evening about these issues. you would say, i cannot talk
further about this because of national security, i respect that and most people who want to have the dialogue respect that. there are lots of people who are better informed than i am. >> that's one of the reasons you see i am engaged in a dialogue with you. it's not about me. as an organization is the relationships we have created. we bring people to the nsa and say, let's talk about what we do. ask whatever questions you have. it is why we have declassified data and posted it online. it is why we have created mechanisms for civil liberties and privacy where we have put products in an unclassified level. so let's walk you through here is the legal framework, here are the protections put in place, here is how we account for those issues which are legitimate. i do not have a problem with that at all. there has been a conscious set of effort, not just at the nsa or more broadly across the
government to try to get to the point you have raced which is valid. we cannot sit here and just say, why don't they like us? why don't they understand that what we do is in their defense? that's not a healthy position to take and i hope it is not one coming across. >> machine learning is incredibly foundational to the future. particularly when i look at let's take cyber defense. one of our primary missions for cyber command, many defensive strategies today are built from the idea of my strategy is based on recognition of the past. but does that help with something -- also many of the defensive strategies today are very heavily predicated on manpower that does not scale well.
machine learning, artificial intelligence offers the possibility just within the cyber defense arena. could you use the power of machine learning to generate systems and capabilities taking ongoing cyber activity question , learning from it anticipating it? charlie: we have been get into that >> there is clearly lots of work going on in this arena. for me it is just a question of when. is it something you'll see in 12 months? no, i don't think so. but in the near term? i believe so. charlie: these are questions that journalists always ask and others, too. on this night, what concerns you most?
what makes you the most optimistic? >> i am always concerned about the potential of another 9/11. that is as much on an emotional scale. we can see powers coming down and it physically agitates me. i had a shipmate who was a close intimate friend we had just served together on sea duty in europe. patrick dunn, a lieutenant commander of the united states navy at the time a great guy, a great irishman we would smoke cigars at night and talk about life. he ended up transferring from the ship we were on and went to duty at the navy command center his wife was pregnant with their first child and he was killed september 11 and the pentagon. i think about i don't want more shipmates or citizens.
it's my job along with that of a lot of other people to make sure it doesn't happen again. that is an important of visceral thing for me. otherwise i look in the cyber arena i worry about destructive actions against critical infrastructure. i worry about data and software manipulation and a look at what happens when none state actors decide -- take isil as an example. it is not just a tool for the promulgation of ideology, the generation of revenue, the recruitment of followers the coronation of activity. my concern is what happens if they decide it is a destructive weapon system? charlie: haven't they already decided that? >> you are not seeing the level of activity in the realm of the possible which is what concerns me. of how bad this could get.
mark: i'm mark crumpton, this is "bloomberg west." let's check the first word. russian president vladimir putin is ordering the bulk of his military to begin withdrawing from syria. president clinton said today that polar is expected begin tomorrow. the announcement comes as peace negotiations resumed today in geneva. russia's five-and-a-half month air campaign allowed bashar army to win back to the ground and strengthen his position ahead of the talks. syrian kurdish fighters battling the islamic state are noting an increase in the number of militants going awol. kurdish fighters are making claims that coalition forces contin t