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US Generals on Iraq: Obama Must Do More Than 'Pinprick' Airstrikes

Image: US Generals on Iraq: Obama Must Do More Than 'Pinprick' Airstrikes (Joshua Horton/Handout EPA/Landov)

By Wanda Carruthers   |   Monday, 11 Aug 2014 02:29 PM

Three generals agree that if President Barack Obama is serious about addressing the threat posed in Iraq by the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), he must do more than the mere "pinpricks" of targeted airstrikes.

Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney told "Fox & Friends" the limited airstrikes the United States began on Friday against ISIS forces were "less than pinpricks," and said it would take a broader air campaign strategy to hinder the advancement of ISIS militants.

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"What kind of strategy? Five targets? No, I am not happy. That's not a strategy. Those are less than pinpricks. We need to be hitting at least 200 targets a day. And it must be a very offensive air campaign, and it's an easy air campaign for U.S. forces," McInerney, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, said Monday.

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Obama approved the airstrikes on Thursday, as well as humanitarian aid to refugees under siege by ISIS militants. The White House announced Monday the United States would provide arms to the Kurdish Peshmerga army battling ISIS.

It would not be difficult to locate ISIS forces for an attack, McInerney said, because "anything moving between Syria and Erbil [Iraq] is an enemy target. It's ISIS. Hit it."

He said time was critical in stopping the advancement of ISIS because of the threat it posed if left unchecked.

"If we don't stop it now and protect the Kurds, we have a huge problem, not only in the Middle East, but globally," he said.

Gen. Jack Keane told Fox News' "America's Newsroom" on Monday that intensive airstrikes could stop ISIS, but ground troops would be needed to defeat them.

"To take [their initiative] away from them, the president has to order the military to conduct offensive airstrikes, where we could simultaneously attack ISIS in multiple locations. That would stop them. To defeat them . . . and to push them back from current locations and to push them into Syria, we would need to support ground forces," said Keane, a retired four-star Army general.

Ground forces could be the Kurdish army or the "remnants of the Iraqi army that still has the will to fight," he said, adding it could also be "Sunni tribes that are turning against ISIS." The air campaign should extend into Syria because that is "where the entire logistical infrastructure of ISIS is."

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Iraqi President Fouad Masoum named a new prime minister Monday to replace embattled  Nouri al-Maliki, who promptly announced he would not step down. While Maliki may be "defiant," Keane predicted it would further the turmoil in Iraq if he stayed in office.

"If he chooses to stay in power, the only way he can stay is by using violence, and that will put Iraq into considerably more chaos than what it is right now," he said.

Gen. Bob Scales, a retired Army major general, also said the airstrikes by the United States were "pinpricks," and explained they were "defensive in nature." He called for a concerted strategy to support the Peshmerga army.

"What we need is just one offensive campaign. Bloody their nose. Allow Peshmerga to do it. And that'll take some of the air out of their sails, because they're on a high right now in the Middle East," Scales told Fox News' "Happening Now" on Monday.

The U.S. had a "huge opportunity" with the Peshmerga forces since they were "the only army left in the Middle East willing to fight," Scales said. "These aren't American divisions attacking ISIL. It's the Peshmerga army that wants to take them on. And, they're willing to fight, and we should do everything in our power to help them." 

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