Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) criticized President Barack Obama during a national security speech in Washington, D.C., for drastic cuts to the military and his Iraq and Syria policy, saying the United States should not rule out ground forces in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS).
"I thought it was a mistake for [Obama] to unequivocally rule out that there will ever be an American ground presence even at the special operations level because while we hope that may never have to happen, it might if we are serious about defeating ISIL," Rubio said.
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Rubio called for increased military spending and reform of benefits for service members, saying that America’s decreased military spending in the Obama administration has invited aggression abroad.
"Look at the way [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has scoffed at the president’s modest attempts to impose sanctions, or the way Assad declined to take America’s threats seriously, using chemical weapons on his own people, and yet he still remains in power," Rubio said.
Rubio said the $487 million in defense cuts as well as sequestration cuts have hurt the U.S. military. He said defense spending has declined 21 percent since 2010.
"The result of these cuts borders on frightening," Rubio said. "Previous presidents have merely taken their foot off the gas pedal of American strength, but President Obama has stomped on the brake."
Rubio said the army is to be reduced to pre-World War II levels, the Navy is at pre-World War I levels, and the Air Force has the smallest and the oldest combat force in its history.
"From Libya to Syria to Egypt to Ukraine, this administration simply shrugs as these threats fester," he said.
Rubio also criticized Obama’s comparison of ISIL to Yemen and Somalia, saying they are different because ISIL is an insurgency carrying out military operations.
"If he intends to act toward ISIL the way he is acting toward terrorists in Yemen and Somalia then I don’t have a lot of confidence that their plan is going to work," he said.