Defense

McKeon: Obama should stop ‘taking options off the table’

Several Republican lawmakers on Thursday said President Obama made a mistake by ruling out the use of ground troops against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syia (ISIS).

“We cannot succeed from the safety of some headquarters building. Engaging these divergent groups and advising indigenous forces will put our military in harm’s way. This is dangerous business,” said House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) at a hearing attended by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

{mosads}”The most irresponsible thing that the president can do is to give the military a mission, but not give it the tools it needs to do the job,” he added. “By taking options off the table, I fear the president is setting the mission, and our military, up for failure rather than success.”

McKeon and other Republican lawmakers said the president should not take any option off the table and need to do more militarily than the “current go-slow approach.”  

“For every week we wait, ISIL grows. We need to conduct military operations in both Iraq and Syria, to deny ISIL any safe haven,” McKeon said, using an alternate acronym for the group.

“While the Kurds and Iraqi Security Forces are willing to fight and have some capability, they still need our trainers and advisors, our command and control, our intelligence, our close air support, our special forces — the capabilities that only the United States can provide,” he added.

Hagel repeated Obama’s vow that U.S. forces will not have a “combat mission on the ground” against ISIS, but later acknowledged that, “if you’re in a warzone, you’re in combat,” and that troops had the right to defend themselves.  

But, he clarified, the 1,600 U.S. forces presently in Iraq are in a “combat zone,” but do not have a combat role.  

Lt. Gen. Bill Mayville, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said those troops are receiving combat pay.

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