Boehner: 'Somebody's boots have to be on the ground' to defeat ISIS

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The U.S. may have “no choice” but to send in ground troops to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa MORE (R-Ohio) warned on Sunday.


The top House Republican said he did not believe the strategy outlined by President Obama, which includes the use of American air power but rules out boots on the ground, will accomplish the goal of destroying the terror network.

“At the end of the day, I think it's gonna take more than air strikes to drive them outta there,” Boehner told ABC News’s “This Week.” “At some point somebody's boots have to be on the ground.”

Asked about the use of U.S. ground forces, Boehner acknowledged that Obama “doesn’t want to do that.”

“If I were the president, I probably wouldn't have talked about what I wouldn't do. And maybe we can get enough of these forces trained and get ‘em on the battlefield. But somebody's boots have to be there,” Boehner said.

And, the Ohio Republican said, if nobody else will stand up, those boots may have to be American.

“We have no choice,” Boehner said. “These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. And if we don't destroy them first, we're gonna pay the price.”

Earlier this month, Obama said flatly the mission against ISIS “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

“This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out [ISIS] wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama said. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

The White House has said that by training and equipping the moderate Syrian opposition and supporting those fighters with airstrikes, a new political regime could be established in Syria. But Boehner wasn’t the only one Sunday to question how effective the rebels could be in helping wipe out ISIS.

“Ultimately, I don’t think we have a partner in the Free Syrian Army who ultimately can win that fight militarily so I worry you get sucked into a long-term conflict,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) warned on CNN.