Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Five victories Democrats can be thankful for Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise MORE (R-Ky.) said Monday that local Iraqi forces and not U.S. troops would have to lead the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"In the end the boots on the ground there are going to have to be local boots on the ground, not ours, to engage in combat, to take these areas of Iraq back," McConnell said in an interview with The Joe Elliott Show. "The combat troops in Iraq now are going to have to come from local forces.
"I think all we can do at this point is provide the kind of training that should have been done on an ongoing basis for the Iraqi military, which especially seems to be throwing down their weapons and running," he added.
The Republican leader didn't specify how many U.S. troops he believes are needed for the training mission, but suggested that the current situation in Iraq could have been avoided if President Obama had left a residual force after the war ended.
"The first big mistake the president made was not leaving behind a residential force in Iraq ... not for combat, but for training and counterterrorism," McConnell said. "This is a country that's a pretty big mess, and could have been avoided at least in Iraq."
Republican presidential candidates have also been grilled on whether they would have invaded Iraq in 2003. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is considering a bid, stumbled over questions about the war earlier this year.
"If we had known they didn't have weapons of mass destruction, we wouldn't have gone in," McConnell said on Monday. "I do get irritated at this revisionist history."