Airstrikes alone not enough, former Joint Chiefs chairman says

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A former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Sunday that an air campaign alone probably will not destroy the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS.)


“The only way we can think about destroying ISIS in this particular strategy is that the forces on the ground will have to do the destroying,” Gen. James Cartwright said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“And we'll provide the air cover and the ability to allow them to maneuver, give them protection, but an air campaign alone probably will not destroy it,” he added.

Cartwright said strikes in Syria would probably target the terror group’s logistic capabilities, including training areas, ammunition dumps and “any place where there’s a large aggregation of these forces.”

“When you move south, then the targets will change. In the south, what we'll be looking for is supporting the Iraqi forces, in particular, and giving them air cover so they can maneuver,” he added.

Cartwright also said the risk of flying through Syrian airspace has been lessened due to “poor maintenance and poor operations."

“But you also always have to treat it as if it's capable,” he added.

Cartwright said ISIS now is laying the groundwork for a “stranglehold” on Baghdad.

“What they're doing is they're basically taking control of the water -- the dams, the ability to flow south, creating the opportunity for a stranglehold on Baghdad,” he said.

“When we think about ISIS they're not small groups like you'd see in Yemen or Somalia or places like that -- shoe bombers, underwear bombers, things like that. They are not quite military either. So they're somewhere in between,” he said.