FACT SHEET: Obama’s Defense Secretaries On ISIS Strategy

Nov 30, 2015
Defense Drumbeat
The First Three Think “We Can Do More.” What will the Fourth Say?

WASHINGTON- Secretary Of Defense Ashton Carter and General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify tomorrow about the President’s strategy to take on ISIS.  President Obama has had more Secretaries of Defense than any other Commander-In-Chief in the modern era.  As Secretary Carter prepares to face Congress, how do his predecessors think the President’s strategy is working out?

We Can Do More:  "I think we can do more.  I think that we actually can do more with the resources that we already have dedicated.   I think we can let our special operations forces have more leeway in Iraq.   I think that we can embed advisers and trainers not only with the Iraqi security forces down to the battalion level, but all with the Sunni tribes that are wanting to fight ISIS and with the Kurds.  I think we can provide more weapons to those groups.   I think we can provide forward air controllers or spotters.  I think we need to take another look at our intelligence to see if we`re being aggressive enough there, and to see if some of the restrictions that have been placed on NSA in recent -- in the last year or two should be reversed."  
Robert Gates, FOX NEWS, Your World With Neil Cavuto, November 20, 2015

We Have Got To Be Much More Aggressive: "Well, obviously there's a lot of concern about whether or not we've deployed the resources to be able to accomplish the mission that the President described. I think the mission that he said is the right mission, which is to disrupt, dismantle and destroy ISIS, that's the right mission. But I think that the resources applied to that mission, frankly, have not been sufficient to confront that. And for that reason, I think we have got to be much more aggressive and much more unified in the effort to take on ISIS." 

“We need to increase the tempo of our air strikes, we need to organize ground forces, particularly, the Sunnis and the Kurds and arm them so that they can take territory back from ISIS. And frankly, we need to increase Special Forces and our intelligence advisors, not only to guide these forces, but to go with them in order to ensure that we are successful in this effort.” 
Leon Panetta, NBC, Meet the Press, November 22, 2015

We Need to More Clearly Define Our Political Strategy:  "I always thought that we needed to more clearly define our political strategy along with our military strategy…There is no military solution to this. We are up against an ideology, we are up against a reality, a set of dynamics we've never seen before -- sophistication of social media, the military prowess, the tactical strategic prowess that ISIS possesses, the funding… So we should more clearly define, what is our political strategies? What are our priorities? Is Assad the enemy or is ISIS the enemy?”  
Chuck Hagel, CNN, State of the Union, November 22, 2015

114th Congress