The Obama administration's strategy to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) does not go far enough overall, retired U.S. Gen. James Mattis told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
Mattis, who served as the top U.S. general overseeing operations in the Middle East before leaving military service in 2013, said the United States should not limit discussion of putting U.S. boots on the ground.
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"You just don’t take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do," Mattis said. He said the United States does not necessarily need to send ground troops for direct combat with ISIL.
"You don’t have to use the best military" against them because "these people aren’t that good," Mattis said. But he said that sending a broad message about unwillingness to use ground troops exposes a vulnerability for the United States.
"Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground.'" Mattis said.
"If a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose."