Military Times and a number of other sources estimate that roughly a thousand ISIS troops defeated a 30,000 man Iraqi army force in Mosul. The Iraqi forces were armed with high-powered U.S. supplied weaponry. ISIS had pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns. How did this David versus Goliath situation come to pass? If David wants to fight and Goliath doesn't, it's a pretty easy win for David. The ISIS propaganda machine is only so effective because of existing political tensions in the region. The Sunni Arabs in Northern Iraq feel left out of the Shiite controlled Iraqi government. As one former high-ranking US officer put it, "It appears that three and a half years of highly sectarian and increasingly authoritarian actions undid the important reconciliation component of the strategy during the Surge and beyond, leaving Sunni Arabs once again feeling marginalized by the Shia-led government in Baghdad." Disenchanted Sunni forces have deserted in high numbers and those who haven't don't seem to have put up much of a fight against ISIS. This has allowed for stunning victory for ISIS's vastly outnumbered forces.
How does technology play into this? We've already discussed how the ISIS propaganda machine makes the group seem more intimidating than they actually are. ISIS also uses brand awareness to drive recruitment and loyalty among their members. This may sound ridiculous, but it is working. NBC recently ran a piece discussing this very issue, appropriately titled, "Will ISIS Eclipse Al Qaeda as No. 1 Global Terrorism Brand?" ISIS has established a brand in much the way that an online business might: by niche marketing. If Al-Qaeda is too mainstream for you, you can join ISIS and really go after the infidels. Through their unrelenting extremism, ISIS has been able to stimulate fast growth with dedicated personnel. Though their numbers are technically relatively small, their core members are incredibly dedicated to ISIS's cause.