The United States can't win the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) militants in Iraq and Syria unless it gets more boots on the ground — and lets U.S. forces already there "do the kinds of things they're capable of doing," Gen. Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and National Security Agency, tells Newsmax TV.
In an interview with "Newsmax Prime" hosts J.D. Hayworth and Miranda Khan on Thursday, Hayden declared U.S. troops in Iraq are "constrained."
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"We've got 3,000 pairs of boots on the ground," Hayden said. "We need more boots on the ground. We're under-resourced and more importantly… overregulated. Even the forces we have there now aren't free to do the kinds of things they're capable of doing."
"They're not free to move forward with Iraqi units below the brigade level," he added.
"They're not free to have tactical air control parties forward in order to bring in precise air power. We don't use our special operation forces very often, although we did have one successful raid about 10 days ago. There are more things we could be doing even with the forces we have, but again, we're over-regulated and constrained."
Hayden said political pressure may be to blame.
"It appears to me that the political control of this military effort is actually incredibly powerful," he said, noting complaints of some U.S. military pilots involved in anti-ISIS airstrike that rules for engagement are preventing them
from operating effectively
and that the order to put on the brakes may be coming "all the way back here to Pennsylvania Avenue."
Hayden also spoke out against the politicization of the Patriot Act, which has enabled the NSA to gather massive amounts of phone data for its anti-terrorist work. It expires June 1.
"Does the world end if we lose it? Probably not — at least on most days, but we do lose an important tool," he said. "This tool is under assault not because it's illegal or not because it's been operationally misused, this tool was under assault for political reasons....
"I know politics really matter, but do we really want to give up something in our quiver simply out of political concerns when operationally it's done and been used the way it's supposed to have been used — and legally.... [I]f you're asking for my vote here, I say reauthorize the Patriot Act as written."
Hayden added that Congress needs to "step up."
"Congress has a role here," he said. "The Congress needs to step up and make a decision and not keep dribbling the ball. The American intelligence community needs to know where the lines are and that's a product of the political process. Get on with it."
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