As the United States continues to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), U.S. officials fear that solely relying on airstrikes has not proved to be effective enough, and they are warning that the installment of ground troops could occur in the future.
These warnings have been made, despite the fact that President Obama has vowed more than once that the U.S. would not send ground troops back into Iraq.
On Saturday, The Telegraph reported that Iraqi officials have issued a “desperate plea for America to bring US ground troops back,” due to the fact that Islamic States militants are now “within striking distance of Baghdad.”
On Sunday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told ABC’s This Week, that ISIS is becoming “harder to target.”
Dempsey said the Iraqi government needed to put more effort into winning over the 20 million Sunni Muslims who live between Damascus and Baghdad, due to the fact that Islamic State militants are “blending into parts of the disenfranchised Sunni population,” which has made defeating the militants a “very challenging task.”
According to Dempsey, the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which was seized by Islamic State militants in June, will most likely be the “decisive battle in the ground campaign at some point in the future.”
“My instinct at this point is that will require a different kind of advising and assisting because of the complexity of that fight,” Dempsey said.
Dempsey pointed out that the “freedom of movement” ISIS currently exhibits, has also been a problem, and has allowed the fighters to come within 25 kilometers of the Baghdad Airport, which led to Iraqi forces calling for assistance from U.S. Apache helicopters.
“Had they overrun the Iraqi unit, it was a straight shot to the airport,” said Dempsey. “So we’re not going to allow that to happen. We need that airport.”
When asked about the current “operation” of defeating ISIS on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said, “First of all, they’re winning and we’re not.”
“The Iraqis are not winning. The Peshmerga, the Kurds are not winning, and there’s a lot of aspects of this,” said McCain. “But there has to be a fundamental re-evaluation of what we’re doing because we are not degrading and ultimately destroying ISIS.”
During the same program, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) pointed out that although ISIS is recognized as an international problem, it’s the U.S. that appears to be “doing all of the work.”
“What I do not want, and I fear very much, is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year,” said Sanders.