The battle to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) will last "10 to 20 years" — longer than previously indicated by the Obama administration, the Army's top general said Friday.
"In my mind, ISIS is a 10-to-20-year problem, it's not a two-year's problem," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, told reporters, DefenseNews reports.
"Now, I don't know what level it will be a problem, but it's a long-term problem."
Since the airstrikes against ISIS began last August, the Obama administration has only defined the campaign as a "years-long" battle to defeat and destroy the terrorist group, also known as ISIL.
In October, Army Gen. Lloyd Austin predicted that the jihadists would be "much degraded"
by airstrikes a year from then.
Odierno's comments Friday marked the longest — and most specific — time frame a White House official has placed on the anti-ISIS effort.
"The administration has said 'three to five' years," he said, DefenseNews reports. "I think in order to defeat ISIL, it's going to take longer than that.
"This movement is growing right now, and so I think it's going to take us a bit longer than we originally thought."
Odierno cautioned, however, that military action cannot solely annihilate the Islamic State, DefenseNews reports. He is retiring next month.
"To defeat them, is not just a military issue," he told reporters. "It is an economic issue. It is a diplomatic issue. It is an issue of moderate versus extremists and it is about also, potentially, having the capability to root them out of the places they now hold in Iraq and Syria."
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