McCain Calls For New Rules Of Warfare Against ISIS

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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Air strikes against ISIS will not be enough, says Arizona Sen. John McCain, the U.S. needs brand new rules of warfare.

McCain’s remarks come after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s announced an expansion of U.S. operations in Iraq and Syria that will include unilateral special forces operations. The Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman elaborated that the U.S. will need at least 5,000 more troops on the ground in the region, in addition to the contingent of a few thousand that already exists in Iraq. The Senator pointed out that the current air campaign is not only ineffective, but has also been reactive as opposed to proactive. (RELATED: Carter: US Special Forces Deploying To Conduct ‘Unilateral Operations in Syria)

The Chairman also noted that the current rules of engagement have been partly to blame for the poor results against ISIS, noting that in 2014, “60 to 70 percent” of U.S. bombing sorties returned with their payloads unspent.

The senator outlined several changes that need to occur to properly defeat ISIS. First, that the current multinational force operating against ISIS needs more troops. When asked about the upcoming U.K. Parliament vote to authorize airstrikes against ISIS, McCain said U.K. strikes would “achieve a little something” and will not make a significant difference, even though it would be important to have a “show from our U.K. friends.”

Additionally, McCain expressed great concern regarding the entrenched influence that Iran has with Iraqi leadership and the country’s Shia majority. The senator witnessed this influence firsthand after returning from a recent trip to Iraq, warning that contrary to recent claims that Iraqis do not want increased U.S. military presence in Iraq, some leaders see a lack of U.S. presence as the main reason for the growing Iranian influence. McCain warned that too much Iranian influence in the Shia community would lead to a “bloodbath in Mosul against Sunnis” by Shia militia groups.

Regarding Kurdish efforts to combat ISIS, McCain again took a sober view of the Kurdish Peshmerga’s capabilities and will power, saying the Kurds will not “sacrifice” in areas that are not of Kurdish interest. Though he praised Kurd efforts and sacrifices, the senator made it clear that a their ground force alone is not enough to deal with the ISIS threat. McCain did call upon Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to “show restraint” on the Kurds, pointing out that the Turks and Kurds must deal with “the common enemy” in ISIS before addressing the political conflict between the Turkish government and the large Kurdish population in Turkey.

Throughout his comments on ISIS, the senator made it clear: “We either attack them there or they attack us here.”

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