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Jeb Bush Calls for More US Ground Troops in Syria

Image: Jeb Bush Calls for More US Ground Troops in Syria
Jeb Bush (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 Nov 2015 03:26 PM

Jeb Bush on C-SPAN Wednesday called for the United States to increase its military presence on the ground in Syria, working with America's NATO allies and Arab partners to soundly defeat the increasingly bloodthirsty Islamic State (ISIS).

"Their aim is our total destruction. We can't withdraw from this threat, or negotiate with it. We have but one choice, to defeat it," Bush, the former governor of Florida and Republican presidential candidate said in an address at the Citadel, a 173-year-old military college in Charleston, S.C.

Bush's call for more U.S. ground troops — just a week after the deadly ISIS-fueled attacks in Paris — is one of the strongest declarations he has made to date in a campaign that has consistently lagged behind the presidential bids of Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas.

"As we gather today, we do so with memories fresh from the atrocities in Paris. The indiscriminate murder of people sitting outside a café, the slaughter of innocents outside the national soccer stadium or at a concert hall," Bush told a group of the school's officers and cadets in what could be seen as a campaign-defining speech.

"The merciless killing of women, children and unarmed citizens who only had the crime of living in freedom. Our hearts are broken for the people of France. They are our oldest and first ally and we're joined together by shared values."

Bush — the brother of President George W. Bush, who was in the White House during the 9/11 attacks — alluded to those terrorist assaults as he discussed strategies to wipe out the Islamic extremist group and boasted of his ability to get the job done.

"Like France, we know the deep sorrow of innocent lives lost due to terrorist brutality. What happened on the streets of Paris on Friday should not have come as a surprise. After all, we have seen ISIS expand its deadly region reach in weeks to Lebanon, to Egypt and to Turkey, to say nothing of the daily horrors faced by those who live under their control in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan," Bush said.

"This brutal savagery is a reminder of what's at stake in this election. We are choosing the leader of the free world and if these attacks remind us of anything it is that we're living in Syria's times that require Syria's leadership and that the free world needs to act. The last seven years under President Obama have taught us that problems do not take care of themselves in the absence of American leadership."

Bush noted that Obama will never admit the world is at war with radical Islamic terrorism, but that is exactly what is going on.

"It is the war of our time and a struggle that will determine the fate of the free world. Three months ago at the Reagan Library I warned that we needed to defeat ISIS and I outlined a clear and serious strategy to eradicate it. The actions I called for then remain critical," Bush said.

"We must unleash the power of our air force by removing self-imposed restraints, enforce a no-fly zone, create safe zones in Syria, allow our special operation forces to target terrorist networks and arm the Kurdish forces."

"Since the attacks in Paris, the demand for action to stamp out ISIS has rightly grown. The United States should not delay in leading a global coalition to take out ISIS with overwhelming force. As the words of French President [François] Hollande have made clear, the United States will not be alone in galvanizing this global effort."

Bush called for the United States to intensify its efforts against ISIS in the air and particularly on the ground.

"While air power is essential, it cannot bring the results we seek. The United States in conjunction with our NATO allies and more Arab partners, we'll need to increase our presence on the ground. The bulk of which should be aligned with what the military generals recommend. Not politicians to be necessary to achieve our objective," he said.

"The bulk of these ground troops will come from local forces that we have built workable relationships with. Finally, to take out ISIS, we must end [Syrian President Bashar] Assad's brutal war against his own people and create a political solution that allows for a stable Syria. If you want to deal with a refugee problem properly, then we need to create a safe and secure Syria."

Bush told The Citadel's cadets that achieving such security will not be easy.

"Some of you in this room will serve on the frontlines of that fight against ISIS and against radical Islamic terrorism. You will sign up for an uncertain fate on foreign fields of battle because your country and the cause of freedom are calling you," he said.

"For generations, America-led alliances, American diplomacy, American military power and American credibility defended the peace and deterred the violent. This is the way forward in our time as well."

He said it is the United States alone that can help its allies in the Middle East gain the upper hand against radical Islamic terrorists like ISIS, al-Qaida, Hamas and Hezbollah and lead the effort to stop Iran's bid for nuclear weapons capability, support for terrorism and ballistic missile capabilities.

"But for the United States, who will defend Christians, Iranian dissidents, religious minorities and other persecuted peoples in the Middle East and across the world? Who will be the dependable friend of Israel standing with them against the worst, if not the United States of America?" he said.

"The fate of millions, the security of our own people and the cause of freedom itself all depend on the decisions we make in these coming years. Bad things and sometimes really, very bad things happen when America steps away from hard challenges."

"It is time for America leadership to begin and that leadership requires a change in course. Defending our national interest always involves risk, but the greatest risk of all is the risk of military inferiority. Today that's the direction we're headed."

Bush said the next president will assume office after an "eight-year drawdown of military power and careless, chronic neglect by the president and Congress" — neglect that has created a low morale among U.S. servicemen and servicewomen.

"You'd be hard-pressed these days to find any soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who feels that Washington is doing right by the military and I agree. In the span of a decade, our government will have withheld a trillion dollars from our national defense. There's no security rationale for these cuts or any kind of strategic vision," he said.

"They're completely arbitrary, imposed by a process that everyone in Washington claims to dislike but no one in Washington has the courage to stop. In these years, we have seen cuts and defense that not only are automatic but also systematic. Not only relentless, but irrational."

"We're going from the cutting edge of military power to what the Army secretary calls the ragged edge of readiness. The active Army has 80,000 fewer soldiers. Half our stateside Marine units are not ready to fight. 12 fleets of air force planes qualify for antique license plates in Virginia."

Bush also took a swing at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who recently toured South Carolina.

"Here in South Carolina a couple of weeks ago, Hillary Clinton said that her foreign policy would be no more aggressive or forward leaning than his. Let me tell you something, I reject that diminished view of America's role in the world," he said.

"In my administration, security for the United States will mean gaining and keeping the edge in every category old and new. Whether it's our command of the seas, the land or the air of space or cyberspace, America's goal should be technological superiority beyond question."

"My plan puts the war fighters first to maintain a force without equal. Such a force is essential for deterrence but we must understand that sometimes deterrence fails. In such circumstances, ideally after other elements of American influence and power have been utilized, when the threat we face is an urgent one, and defeating it is in our national interest, we must be prepared to use force."

The use of that force, he added, must be effective and well defined so that one deployment "doesn't lead to endless others or leave the job undone."

"Any use of force will be purposeful, aimed only towards victory and always with the heavy thumb of American power, resources and resolves on the scales of war," said Bush, who outlined a plan for what he called the "21st century military."

"[This] force, when necessary, around the globe, [would work] to prevail in conflict or better still, to deter enemies and avoid conflict, we must have the in strength, the readiness, and the equipment to meet any challenge from any adversary. We don't need to be the world's policeman, but we must restore our place as the leader and indispensable power of the free world," he said.

"This is how we get there: no service branch has taken deeper personnel cuts in recent years than the Army, which will soon have an active duty force of just 450,000 soldiers. That is not nearly enough to protect America's interests."

"So as president, I would ask the Congress for an increase of 40,000 active duty soldiers. Under my plan, the Marines will be restored to an in strength of 186,000 fighters because in a crisis, everything can turn on the speed and skill of the Corps."

Bush said the nation's air and naval forces will be brought up to snuff with state-of-the-art technology.

"We will not allow our pilots to fly 20th century aircraft into the face of 21st century air defenses. And we must continue to invest in America's special operations command," he said.

"In this complex fight against radical Islamic terrorism, they have demonstrated time and time again their ability to capture and kill senior terrorists and to embed with, train, and enable local forces so that a larger commitment of American forces is not required.

"Like our military, America's intelligence agencies are overstretched and struggling to respond to technological advances by adversaries and harmful leaks of sensitive information. I will give our talent corps of intelligence professionals, who too often go unrecognized, everything they need to support the war fighters and to get the job done."

Bush said "the best policy" for creating conditions for peace is to develop the capability to wage war with crushing force — and that will include a makeover of the military hierarchy.

"We cannot and will not simply throw money at the problem. We need to reform the Pentagon, shedding overhead passed down from a different generation and adapt it to our 21st century challenges. That means procurement reform, so we buy the right tools at the right price and get them to the warfighter at the right time," he said.
"We need to reduce the size of the civilian Department of Defense work force so that our war fighters and their families aren't forced to make a sacrifice to protect public sector union interests. No interests and certainly not a special interest should ever come before the needs of the men and women who wear our country's uniform."

"Nor could any serious modernization plan overlook our vulnerabilities in cyber warfare. It is frankly appalling that the United States is not plainly superior to rivals who seek to undermine us in cyber space."

Bush said that with the government and American companies under cyber-attack every day, it's not enough to simply make fixes after every breach.

"As president, I will give our intelligence agencies the mandate and resources to stay ahead of this threat. I would work hard to see that the United States is at the forefront of developing a much needed doctrine on cyber warfare," he said.

"Potential hackers and cyber thieves, government, or non-state players needs to understand what sort of response they will face should they attack us, making good on this new doctrine will also require that we develop our own capabilities to the point that America's retaliation to a cyber-attack would be certain and devastating."

"America, as John F. Kennedy said, requires only one kind of defense policy. A policy summed up in a single word: First … If we're to take command of our future, we must ensure our military is first, period, once again … Our armed forces need to know that support for the military is not just another partisan issue and that their commander in chief is not just another politician."

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Jeb Bush on C-SPAN Wednesday called for the United States to increase its military presence on the ground in Syria, working with America's NATO allies and Arab partners to soundly defeat the increasingly bloodthirsty Islamic State (ISIS).
jeb bush, us, military, troops, syria, isis
Wednesday, 18 Nov 2015 03:26 PM
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