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Former NATO Commander: US Boots on the Ground Required to Combat Islamic State

• October 16, 2014 8:19 am

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Former NATO commander James Stavridis said Thursday that the current strategy against the Islamic State is not working and will require U.S. boots on the ground.

"We're going to need to put U.S. boots on the ground there," Stavridis said in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. "Not 150,000, like at peak in Iraq, but probably 10,000 to do the advising, the training, the mentoring."

Stavridis, who serves as the Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, said bringing Turkey into the game and committing U.S. ground troops were crucial to winning the war against IS.

"If we can get ISIS in a three-front war, with the Peshmerga in the north, Iraqi security in the south, bombing in the west, we can still turn this thing," Stavridis said.

The Morning Joe crew was stumped when host Mika Brzezinski asked which "reliable forces" are on the ground other than U.S. forces.

Stavridis said that because Turkey was focused on bombing the Kurds and the Assad regime, the country can not be counted on as a reliable ally to commit ground troops despite its large army and its NATO membership.

"I would hope that our military are giving the president a wide range of options," Stavridis said. "And within that range, they will say to him, ‘this is very high risk. If we don’t put U.S. boots on the ground, if we want to turn this thing, Mr. President, we need to be putting 10,000–maybe 15,000 troops on the ground.'"

Published under: Islamic State, NATO, Turkey