Hagel: ISIS poses an 'imminent' threat to US

 

Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelOvernight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces Five takeaways from Pentagon chief's first major trip Esper given horse in Mongolia as US looks for new inroads against China MORE said Wednesday the Sunni fundamentalist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) poses a threat not just to the government in Baghdad, but to the United States as well.

"This country should not make any mistake on this, nor anyone in Congress — this is a threat to our country," Hagel said while meeting with troops at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.

"This is a force that is sophisticated. It's dynamic, it's strong, it's organized, it's well-financed, it's competent, [ISIS]. And it is a threat to our allies all over the Middle East. It's a threat to Europe. It's a threat to every stabilized country on Earth, and it's a threat to us," Hagel said.

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He added that the Pentagon was getting daily assessments from troops deployed on the ground in Iraq, and the "finality of those assessments will be completed in the next few days."

The administration has said that assessment would form the basis of next steps for the U.S. in Iraq, which is battling a terrorist takeover by ISIS.

"We'll have a further context of what recommendations they'll make. In the meantime, we're doing everything we can, as I said in those two general areas, protect our people and assist [Iraqi Security Forces] in their efforts to defeat [ISIS]," Hagel said.

In response to a threat to Baghdad, President Obama has ordered about 650 U.S. troops to Iraq, in addition to the 100 already there.

Those troops are helping to reinforce the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and other diplomatic facilities, as well as to conduct assessments on the security situation, which includes the flying of armed and unarmed drones.

"We are assisting in every way we can to help the Iraqi people defeat the brutal fundamentalists," Hagel said.

"[ISIS] may not appear to be an imminent threat to the United States. It is a threat to the United States. It is a threat, clear threat to our partners in that area, and it is imminent," he said.