Cruz defends proposal to carpet bomb ISIS

Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzTrump: ‘I cannot imagine’ GOP senators don’t back healthcare bill Trump making calls to senators on healthcare bill Trump maintains healthcare push heading into weekend 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 ObamaTrump: 'Why no action' from Obama on Russian meddling? Dems look to defense bill to put pressure on Trump Number of refugees entering US drops by half under Trump MORE," he said.

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Cruz first suggested the idea during a speech on Dec. 5, where he said, "we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don't know if sand can glow int he dark, but we're going to find out."

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.