The United States will eventually need boots on the ground in Iraq, in addition to air power, in order to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS), Gen. Jack Keane told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
"We need a ground force and air power, not to just stop ISIS. But, to defeat it," Keane, a retired four-star Army general, said Friday. "We will eventually put together a comprehensive plan to deal with this, because we do not have an alternative."
Secretary of State Chuck Hagel and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a media briefing Thursday on the threat that ISIS poses to the United States. Hagel said the group is "beyond anything we've seen," and called the terrorist organization an "imminent threat."
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Hagel said ISIS has to be contained in Syria, as well as Iraq, and said the administration is establishing a strategy to do that. Keane said expanding an air campaign in Iraq and Syria should take place "simultaneously," and would likely include attacking "staging bases, training areas, equipment depots, lines of communication, and forward troop positions."
"What does that do? It takes away ISIS's freedom of movement and the initiative they currently have to attack any place at will," he said.
Keane suggested President Barack Obama could no longer downplay the threat ISIS poses to the Middle East and around the world, even though amplified U.S. involvement may be taking place "reluctantly, begrudgingly."
"ISIS is attacking U.S. vital interests in the Middle East. And they are willing to attack and kill American people and people in the West and the U.K. and others in Europe. This is a fact. We know it, and we are now going to do something about it," he said.
Keane said the United States should "arm robustly" the Free Syrian Army, and suggested that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad probably would not respond to U.S. airstrikes within his borders.
"I don't think [Assad] will engage us. Why? Because ISIS is his opponent. That's the reality of what's taking place. They have grabbed his territory," he said.
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