By Jesse Byrnes - 06/12/15 05:20 PM EDT
The United States will need combat troops on the ground to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), former President George W. Bush suggested in a new interview.
"The president will have to make that determination," Bush said in an interview published Friday with the Israel Hayom newspaper when asked if ISIS could be defeated without ground troops.
"My position was that you need to have boots on the ground," he said.
There are currently 3,100 U.S. military members in Iraq, with all serving in an advisory role. The Obama administration has also opted for airstrikes to combat the terrorist group in Syria, where it has taken over large areas of land.
Bush said he faced the "very difficult decision" as president to double-down and send additional U.S. troops to Iraq amid mounting casualties and eroding public support for the war.
"I think history will show that al-Qaida in Iraq was defeated," said Bush, who in the interview described al Qaeda as "ISIS as far as I am concerned."
"I chose the path of boots on the ground. We will see whether or not our government adjusts to the realities on the ground."
During the lengthy interview with the Sheldon Adelson-owned newspaper, Bush reminisced about other aspects of his controversial presidency, and revealed the one thing he missed.
"There is only one thing that I really miss about being president, and that's being the commander-in-chief. I admire our military a lot," Bush said. "When you are the commander-in-chief, at a time when I was, when you put them into a lot of combat situations, you develop a special bond, not only with the military but with their families."
The ex-president's brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R), is expected to launch his own White House bid Monday.