Panetta: Obama Isn’t Deploying Sufficient Resources to Destroy Islamic State

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Former secretary of defense Leon Panetta said Sunday that there was "a lot of concern" whether the Obama administration had deployed the resources necessary to fulfill its stated mission to destroy the Islamic State terrorist organization.

Panetta, who served under President Obama, was among those who took exception to Obama's claim last week that the Islamic State was contained. That group included Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), who said IS "is expanding."

On Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd asked Panetta whether he felt Obama's "right strategy" for IS was working. Obama is currently receiving his worst polling ever from the American people on the question of how he handles terrorism.

"Well, obviously there's a lot of concern about whether or not we've deployed the resources to be able to accomplish the mission that the president described," Panetta said. "I think the mission that he said is the right mission, which is to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy ISIS. That's the right mission. but I think that the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that, and for that reason I think we've got to be much more aggressive and much more unified in the effort to take on ISIS."

Todd asked Panetta about a column penned by Michael Vickers, a former counterterrorism advisor to both Obama and President Bush, who said the mission implemented by the Obama administration was a failing "long game" when "a more rapid and disruptive strategy is required." Panetta agreed.

"This effort is not coordinated," Panetta said. "People are not working together. Everybody's kind of doing their own thing on different targets. We need to unify the command. We need to set a joint command center where all of these countries are together on their objective, and secondly we need to increase our effort there. We need to increase the tempo of our air strikes. We need to organize ground forces, particularly the Sunnis and the Kurds and arm them so that they can take territory back from ISIS. And, frankly, we need to increase special forces and our intelligence advisors, not only to guide these forces but to go with them in order to ensure that we are successful in this effort."

Full exchange:

CHUCK TODD: I'm now joined by Leon Panetta. He of course served as both secretary of defense and director of the CIA under President Obama. Secretary Panetta, it's nice to see you, sir. Let me just ask a very simple question. Is the president's current strategy against ISIS working?

LEON PANETTA: Well, obviously there's a lot of concern about whether or not we've deployed the resources to be able to accomplish the mission that the president described. I think the mission that he said is the right mission, which is to disrupt, dismantle, and destroy ISIS. That's the right mission. but I think that the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that, and for that reason I think we've got to be much more aggressive and much more unified in the effort to take on ISIS.

TODD: You know, in Politico, one of the former counterterrorism advisors to both President Obama and President Bush, Michael Vickers, he wrote this. "By any measure, our strategy in Iraq and Syria is not succeeding or is not succeeding fast enough. We are playing a long game when a more rapid and disruptive strategy is required." Basically, the argument is maybe this strategy's correct, but the speed with which it's being implemented is what's wrong. Do you buy that argument?

PANETTA: Well, I think he makes some very good points. Look, if we're going to confront ISIS, you know, clearly we've been through acts of war these last few weeks that make it very clear that they are a clear and present danger not only to Europe but to this country as well, and we're going to have to take some very specific steps here. One is to unify this effort. As Richard Engel pointed out, this effort is not coordinated. People are not working together. Everybody's kind of doing their own thing on different targets. We need to unify the command. We need to set a joint command center where all of these countries are together on their objective, and secondly we need to increase our effort there. We need to increase the tempo of our air strikes. We need to organize ground forces, particularly the Sunnis and the Kurds and arm them so that they can take territory back from ISIS. And, frankly, we need to increase special forces and our intelligence advisors, not only to guide these forces but to go with them in order to ensure that we are successful in this effort.

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