Former Defense head: White House lacks broad ISIS plan

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelWhile our foes deploy hypersonic weapons, Washington debates about funding Hillicon Valley: Democrats request counterintelligence briefing | New pressure for election funding | Republicans urge retaliation against Chinese hackers National security leaders, advocacy groups urge Congress to send election funds to states MORE on Sunday called on the White House to develop a broader strategy to guide the country’s fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“What are our priorities here?” he asked in an interview Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  


“We need to more clearly define the political strategy that should lead the military strategy,” added Hagel, who served under the Obama administration from February 2013 to February 2015.

Hagel’s concerns were initially laid out while still in office in a memo he wrote to National Security Adviser Susan Rice.

According to reports, the two-page document detailed Hagel’s worries that the U.S. could lose ground in its war against ISIS if it did not alter its strategy toward Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“We had conversations about it,” he said on Sunday. “It’s one of those issues where there are differences of opinion.”

Hagel said the U.S. has been misguided in Syria by trying to convince rebel forces to prioritize a fight against ISIS over other battles.

While that may meet the U.S. needs, “they don’t see it quite this way,” Hagel said.

ISIS has been in the spotlight in recent weeks after taking credit for the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed about 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The extremist group has also said it was behind a bomb that recently took down a Russian commercial plane, killing hundreds of people.

Hagel said the U.S. must shift its approach on ISIS, focusing on building stronger alliances with other countries, including Russia, that want to eliminate the group.

“What is the common threat to all of those countries?” he asked.

“I don’t think you’re going to find a resolution to Assad until you figure out how we’re going to deal with ISIS,” Hagel added.