Tags: ISIS/Islamic State | Robert Gates | ISIS | Terrorism | US Troops | US

Robert Gates: US Now Where It Should Have Already Been With ISIS

(MSNBC's "Morning Joe")

By    |   Thursday, 19 May 2016 11:27 AM

The United States is now at the point where it should have been "a year or two ago" when it comes to fighting against the Islamic State, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday, but he still does not agree with those who seek to send thousands of troops into Iraq and Syria.

"I think where we are today in terms of a significant number of U.S. Special Forces, the use of American combat aircraft, use of American helicopters, advising the Iraqi security forces, helping the Sunni tribes and the Kurds, we've gotten to this point," Gates told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "The incrementalism has conveyed a lack of seriousness in tackling the problem or an uncertainty about how to tackle it."

However, Gates said that even if the United States were to decide to send in large numbers of ground troops, Iraq would not let them in.

"It's kind of a foolish debate in terms of sending thousands and thousands of American troops in, given an Iranian dominated, or an Iranian influenced, Shia government in Baghdad," said Gates, who has also served as CIA director in past years. "That invitation is not going to be forthcoming."

Small groups of American forces, in combination with resident armies should be enough to defeat ISIS, he continued.

"I think also where we have perhaps been too slow is in providing independent help to the Sunnis and to the Kurds," Gates said. "It's been very tough getting assistance, weapons and so on from the Shia-dominated government in Baghdad out to these groups. We perhaps could have done more there."

But "essentially strangling" ISIS over time is likely the best strategy, Gates said. "Bring troops back into Baghdad to provide better protection there, which would then slow down the offensive against ISIS.  I think the thing that people need to understand is this is going to take a considerable period of time."

Gates said he does think it is "incredibly unfortunate" that the Obama administration does not speak openly about troops being in combat.

"American troops are in action," he said. "They are being killed.  They are in combat. And the semantic back flips to avoid using the term combat is a disservice to those out there putting their lives on the line...why the White House can't bring itself to acknowledge what everybody in the world knows is unfortunate."

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The United States is now at the point where it should have been a year or two ago when it comes to fighting against the Islamic State, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said Thursday, but he still does not agree with those who seek to send thousands of troops into...
Robert Gates, ISIS, Terrorism, US Troops, US
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2016-27-19
Thursday, 19 May 2016 11:27 AM
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