Joni Ernst Backs Sustained Military Campaign Against the Islamic State

Criticizes democratic opponent for voting against funding troops

Joni Ernst
Joni Ernst / AP

Iowa Republican and Senate candidate Joni Ernst expressed support for tougher actions against the Islamic State in a column for FoxNews.com on Friday, while also blasting her opponent for attempting to cut military funding.

Ernst noted that she has served in the military for 22 years, including in the Iraq War. The Islamic State is currently consolidating control in Iraq’s Anbar province—the scene of intense fighting between U.S. troops and al Qaeda insurgents in the mid 2000s—and could soon surround the capital, Baghdad.

Ernst warned that defeating the terrorist group might require a more lethal offensive from the United States, including increased airstrikes and U.S. special operations forces on the ground:

I thank God every day that each of the 150 soldiers who I commanded in Iraq came home safely to Iowa, and I pray for the families of the thousands of brave Americans who were not so fortunate. To see Iraqi cities that Americans once shed blood to liberate now be overtaken by terrorists is heartbreaking for all of us who once wore "boots on the ground" in Iraq.

These terrorists have American blood on their hands, and their ambitions are a direct threat to our national security.

That is why I strongly support the decision to launch airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, and agreed with the recent vote in Congress to authorize the training and arming of moderate rebels in Syria. But to defeat the Islamic State and keep Americans safe in the future, more may be required.

Ernst also criticized Rep. Bruce Braley (D., Iowa) for previously voting against defense bills that included funding for troops:

My opponent, Congressman Bruce Braley, and I have very different approaches to national security. While I can respect his opposition to our efforts in Iraq when he entered Congress in 2007, I cannot accept or condone his votes to defund our troops while they were engaged in combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

More recently, I disagreed with his vote this past June that would have prohibited the American military from striking the Islamic State in Iraq even if our civilian and military leaders deemed it necessary.

Additionally, Ernst said she would make health care for veterans a "top priority" if elected. Republicans pounced on Braley after it was reported in July that he missed more than 75 percent of full House Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearings in 2011 and 2012.