By Kristina Wong - 01/28/16 09:32 PM EST
Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzStephen Hawking: Trump a 'demagogue' Dems to Clinton: Ignore Trump on past scandals Meet the billionaire donor behind Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker MORE (R-Texas) doubled down on his proposal to "carpet bomb" the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria during Thursday's Republican presidential debate, arguing it is a "military strategy."
"It is not tough talk — it is a different fundamental military strategy from what we've seen from Barack ObamaBarack ObamaFive things Clinton needs to do to win the California primary Republican senator expects Trump will 'embrace' GOP platform Frustration with White House builds in Hispanic caucus MORE," he said.
Critics of Cruz, including former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, have said it would be unrealistic to carpet bomb ISIS, which is embedded among the civilian population, particularly in their strongholds in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria.
“I think most rhetoric about carpet bombing, about making the sand glow, about bombing them to death and so on is frankly just unrealistic," Gates said last week on FOX Business Network.
"It’s not going to accomplish the military objective — it takes no account of civilian casualties. It’s a simplistic answer to what’s a complex and long term problem,” he said.
Cruz later clarified he would "carpet bomb where ISIS is, not a city, but the location of troops."
He then implied he would embed U.S. special forces to call in airstrikes, which suggests more precise targeting than carpet bombing.
Cruz on Thursday, however, argued that the strategy has been employed by the United States before, against Saddam Hussein's forces when they invaded Kuwait in 1990.
"You want to know what carpet bombing is? It's what we did in the first Persian Gulf War — 1,100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy," he said.
"Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day," he added.