Pentagon chief: Obama wants to defeat ISIS by end of his term

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President Obama wants the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) defeated by the end of his term, Defense Secretary Ash Carter says. 

“That’s what he said he wants. That’s what he told me and [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford]. He said, ‘Get this done as soon as possible. I’d like to not leave this to my successor,’ ” Carter said Friday an event hosted by Politico. 

{mosads}He added that Obama called for the process to be accelerated last fall — about a year after the U.S. first began its counter-ISIS campaign. 

The administration now has only nine months left, but Carter said he’s optimistic. 

“I’m confident that we’ll do it. And we have an operational plan now,” he said. 

A military spokesman later Friday gave a more cautious assessment as to when the coalition could take back Mosul and Raqqa, ISIS’s respective strongholds in Iraq and Syria. 

“I’m not going to put a timeline on it other than to say, you know, we are going to work with our partners on the ground, and the coalition to move as fast as possible,” said Air Force Col. Pat Ryder, spokesman U.S. Central Command.

But he added that “our campaign plan is predicated on providing support to and enabling indigenous ground forces, and so, that strategy and that approach has been working.” 

So far, U.S. operations against ISIS have cost $6.5 billion since August 2014, about $11.4 million per day for 571 days, according to a new Pentagon estimate on Friday.

Republicans in Congress have blasted the administration for not moving faster and not taking more action against ISIS. 

After Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday formally labeled ISIS’s crimes as “genocide,” the first time since 2004 the U.S. has used that term — Republicans called upon the administration to do more to defeat the group. 

“Now that our government is recognizing this crisis, it needs to do more to stop it,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday. 

“The president must step up and lay out a broad, overarching plan that’s needed to actually defeat and destroy ISIS,” added House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.). 

Congress required the administration to provide lawmakers with a strategy to defeat ISIS, but the White House missed the deadline last month. 

With some exceptions on both sides, neither Republicans nor Democrats have the appetite to approve a new authorization for the use of military force against ISIS. 

Republicans and Democrats have butted heads over what kind of authorization would be appropriate. Republicans say they want to see the president’s strategy before approving one but don’t want to tie commanders’ hands. Democrats want any authorization to limit operations in order to avoid another open-ended ground war in the Middle East.  

Tags Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant John Kerry Paul Ryan

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