Tags: mccain | isis | ash | carter

McCain: San Bernardino Proves We Need Ground Troops to Fight ISIS

Image: McCain: San Bernardino Proves We Need Ground Troops to Fight ISIS

Wednesday, 09 Dec 2015 12:14 PM

Senator John McCain told President Barack Obama’s defense chief that American troops must join allies on the ground to destroy Islamic State’s “caliphate in Syria,” as the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino rekindled debate over U.S. strategy.

“These attacks make it clear that ISIL’s threat against our homeland is real, direct and growing, that we are not winning this war and that time is not on our side,” McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said at a hearing Wednesday, using an acronym for Islamic State.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the committee that such a U.S.-led effort on the ground would “Americanize the war in Iraq and Syria” without establishing the local forces needed to secure and govern reclaimed territory. Responding to McCain’s call for allies such as Saudi Arabia to play a bigger role against Islamic State, Carter said, “I too wish the Sunni Arab nations would do more.”

Carter, who acknowledged that Islamic State hasn’t been contained, said the U.S. continues to accelerate its military effort. In the effort to retake Ramadi in Iraq, Carter said the U.S. “is prepared to assist the Iraqi Army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job, including attack helicopters and accompanying advisers, if requested.”

‘Targeting Force’

The defense secretary, who this month announced an “expeditionary targeting force” to conduct special operations in Iraq and Syria, said Wednesday, “where we find further opportunity to leverage such capability, we will not hesitate to expand it.”

But he also underscored the Obama administration’s emphasis on efforts “to develop capable, motivated, local ground forces as the only force that can assure a lasting victory.”

QuickTake: Fighting Islamic State

McCain rejected as a “straw-man argument” the administration’s suggestion that its critics want to invade Iraq and Syria with 100,000 combat troops. The Arizona Republican said he wants “several thousand additional U.S. troops,” in addition to the 3,500 already in Iraq. In addition to training and advising, he said they would “embed with and advise Iraqi units closer to the fight” and “call in airstrikes from forward positions.”

Multinational Force

But he also called for assembling a multinational force, of a size he didn’t specify, to retake Islamic State’s stronghold in Raqaa, Syria. He said such a force would be “primarily made up of Sunni Arab and European forces, but with a strong U.S. component.” He suggested allies would be more willing to join in such an effort than Carter indicated.

“As long as ISIL can claim to possess its caliphate it projects an aura of success that remains its most powerful tool” for recruiting, McCain said.

The top Democrat on the committee, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, also pushed for more resources. “We’ve all come to the conclusion we need American forces on the ground,” Reed said. “The question is how many,” and what they should do.


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Senator John McCain told President Barack Obama's defense chief that American troops must join allies on the ground to destroy Islamic State's "caliphate in Syria," as the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino rekindled debate over U.S. strategy."These attacks make...
mccain, isis, ash, carter
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2015-14-09
Wednesday, 09 Dec 2015 12:14 PM
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