Defense

Robert Gates: Obama will need ground troops

President Obama will have to use ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in order for his plan to succeed, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Wednesday.

{mosads}”The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, [or] the Sunni tribes acting on their own. So, there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy,” Gates, who served under Obama, said on “CBS This Morning.”

“And I think that by continuing to repeat that [there won’t be boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself,” he said.

Gates’s remarks came a day after Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said the president told him he would consider putting U.S. troops in direct combat on a “case-by-case” basis.

The White House pushed back on those remarks, calling them “hypothetical” and reiterated that the president did not believe in putting U.S. troops into combat in the push to “degrade and destroy” ISIS.

Gates said Obama’s vow to destroy the group might be an “unattainable” goal.

“We’ve been at war with al Qaeda for 13 years. We have dealt them some terrible blows, including the killing of Osama bin Laden. But I don’t think anybody would say that after 13 years, we’ve destroyed or defeated al Qaeda,” he said.

“And so, I think to promise that we’re going to destroy ISIS, or ISIL, sets a goal that may be unattainable, as opposed to devastating it, or whereas the vice president would put it, ‘following ’em to the gates of hell’ and dealing them terrible blows that prevent them from holding territory,” he said.

“Those are probably realistic goals.”

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