Kinzinger: US Special Forces Have to Re-Grow Iraqi's Military's Spine

Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 12:09 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Reps. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., and Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, both veterans of the war in Iraq, agreed Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the main mission for the United States' current action in Iraq should be to defeat the Islamic State [ISIS] militants who are wreaking havoc in Iraq.

"I want to be very careful to say it's good we started doing something," Kinzinger, who remains in the military and is reporting to guard duty next week, told co-host Martha Raddatz. "What we're watching in Iraq and Syria, frankly, is the worst-case scenario for the Middle East."

He pointed out that he was calling for air strikes as far back as January on the "This Week" program, and believes the targeted airstrikes President Barack Obama ordered earlier this month are good, but the United States has to "get bigger."

"The crushing and the pushing back of ISIS is of utmost priority," Kinzinger said, including in Syria, where the Free Syrian Army is finding itself surrounded by the regime of Bashar al-Assad and ISIS.

"They need the equipment and the weapons," said Kinzinger, describing the ISIS activities as "the worst case scenario."

The United States also has to be involved with the Iraqi government when it comes to stopping ISIS, he said.

"There is a lot to do," Kinzinger told Raddatz. "We're on the right start."

But that doesn't include putting troops on the ground, he said.

"I understand the president doesn't want to put troops on the ground," Kinzinger said. "I don't either. You can't reintroduce 200,000 American troops."

However, he believes special forces that are embedded with Iraq's military as it "regrows its spine to retake the country back will be essential."

Meanwhile, Kinzinger said nothing should be publicly taken off the table with Iraq.

"Even if you take it off the table privately...it shows the enemy what you're not willing to do," he said. "When you show them what you're not willing to do, it makes your movements all that less effective."

Gabbard, likewise, agreed that while there is confusion over what the United States' mission in Iraq, one thing should be made clear — "if our mission is not to take them [ISIS] out, then I think we have a real problem here."

"Adam and I joined the military after 9/11 because we heard our nation's leaders say after that attack that we would go and take out these Islamic extremists wherever they are," Gabbard said. "We would fight against those waging war against the United States. That stated mission after 9/11 has been lost."

If the United States can focus its efforts on eliminating ISIS, then it can focus on the tactics it will need to take out the militant threat.

"Right now, we're seeing in Kurdistan, we need to arm the Kurds with heavy weapons," said Gabbard. "We can augment that with our targeted air strikes."

Kinzinger said he is "very worried" about the threat of ISIS, because "the reality is, they have made it very, very clear they want to strike us in the United States of America. They want to strike Europe. They have made that clear."

And the militants have "the intention and the means" to mount attacks, including passports and Westerners fighting with ISIS who have the ability to return to United States," said Kinzinger. "We need to have a goal of saying we need to crush ISIS."

Kinzinger said he understands Americans are tired of war, but meanwhile, American interests need to be protected.

"After World War II, Harry Truman didn't look at the American people and say, 'I know you're war-weary.' He said 'we're going to leave troops in Europe.'"

And Obama, Kinzinger said, needs to stand up in front of the American people and tell them that they may be war-weary, "but in five or 10 years, we don't want to look back and say, we missed all the signs, all the signals of the intention of the extremists."

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