By Jesse Byrnes - 08/10/14 10:57 AM EDT
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Retired U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham said on Sunday that targeted airstrikes in Iraq have given "pause" to Islamic extremists, but it would be difficult to respond more effectively without ground forces.
"It appears to at least given pause to the Islamic extremists as they seek to advance toward Erbil and other cities. But much more effort will be required to achieve a positive outcome longer term," Ham said.
The president has ruled out sending in U.S. combat forces into Iraq, but his level of support for the Kurdish regional government and armed forces and a new long-term government remains to be seen, Ham said.
"It will be very difficult without U.S. ground forces or ground forces of others" to protect Americans, stop the humanitarian crisis, eliminate Islamic militant safe havens and protect Iraqi infrastructure like the Mosul dam, Ham said.
Ham said the president was right that the U.S. response must center around a long-term government that the Iraqi air force respects.