Sen. McCain: We need a strategy against ISIS

Claiming there is no strategy in place to fight ISIS, Republican Sen. McCain urges President Obama to send ‘a number of thousands’ of additional US troops to help fight the group

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

US Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on Sunday the US needs a more defined strategy to fight against ISIS in the Middle East and that more American troops are needed in the region.

“We need to have a strategy,” McCain told CBS’s Face the Nation. “There is no strategy, and anybody that says that there is, I’d like to hear what it is, because it certainly isn’t apparent now.”

McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is in favor of an aggressive strategy against ISIS much like the surge of troops President George W. Bush supported during the Iraq War.

“We had it won, the surge had succeeded,” McCain said. Full of praise for George W. Bush, he urged Barack Obama to follow in the former president’s footsteps.

“George W. Bush at least had the guts to reverse and sponsor the surge, which we eventually then succeeded. I wish, I pray, that Barack Obama would do the same thing.”

McCain suggested that “a number of thousands” of US troops to improve training of local forces or to help direct air strikes against ISIS might just be what is needed.

Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates also believes there needs to be a clear game plan. “We don’t really have a strategy at all. We’re basically playing this day by day,” He told MSNBC on Tuesday.

Gates was not optimistic about the way things were going. “Right now, it looks like [Iraq is] going the way of Yugoslavia,” he added.

White House national security adviser Susan Rice told USA Today last week that the support to Iraq will be limited to targeting ISIS from the air and keeping 3,000 US troops at several secure bases, in line with the existing plan.

“We are not going to own this battle as Americans and put combat forces back on the ground again,” she said. “That is not what we are about.”

Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.), the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, conceded that “we have tied our own hands in a variety of ways” because of lack of Americans in the region, even though he’d “prefer not to have American ground troops,” he told ABC’s “This Week” which aired on Sunday.

He said that some military officials believe “if we’d had some advisers on the ground we could have called in effective air strikes that would have at least made the battle for Ramadi more competitive.”

Fingers have been pointed in search of a party to blame for the fall of Ramadi last week.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter accused the Iraqi army on Sunday of “lacking the will” to fight to stop ISIS’ advance.

"[Iraqi forces] vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they withdrew from the site," he said.

Carter was soon criticised by a top official in the region. General Qassem Soleimani, head of the elite Quds force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, countered Carter and claimed the US had not done enough to prevent the fall of Ramadi.

“Mr. Obama, how many kilometers are there between Ramadi and your military bases in Iraq?... How is it possible that you deploy your soldiers in Iraq but do nothing to prevent massacres?” he was reported as saying on Monday by the Iranian daily Javan.

TRTWorld and agencies