A few military experts and former military officers called for a return of 20,000 American troops back to Iraq to combat Islamic militants gaining power in the country. Conservative military experts told the Senate Armed Services Committee that troops were needed to assist the Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Frederick Kagan, a director at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, former professor of military history at West Point and an architect of the Bush-era surge of troops in Iraq, was present during the hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria.
Kagan was invited by Sen. John McCain and was joined by John Keane, retired Army general and former vice chief of staff; Derek Harvey, professor at the University of South Florida and retired Army colonel; and Brian Katulis, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
John Keane mentioned that ISIL terrorists have spread their reach over the Euphrates River from Baghdad to the Turkish border. He also went on to explain that they are expanding into Sinai, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, according to Press TV
Kagan said, “We need to have a total of 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops in Iraq in order to provide the necessary enablers, advisers and so forth. Anything less than that is simply unserious.”
Kagan and Keane advised President George W. Bush in 2006 to increase U.S. troops in Iraq when the US plan was failing.
Brian Katulis was the only member of the panel who doubted the motion of sending more troops to Iraq and mentioned that Washington should be holding Baghdad responsible for creating a more inclusive government.
“At this stunning moment — what happened in Ramadi, I think, should shock everybody — we should keep an eye on these measures of what we need to do to help our Iraqi partners on the security front, but understand what we have learned over the last 10 years-plus is that the political dynamics are terribly important.”
According to Military.com, the hearing occurred a few days after ISIS fighters took command of the Iraqi city of Ramadi and Syrian city, Palmrya. Three months ago, the Pentagon revealed a plan for Iraqi and U.S. forces to withstand the al-Qaeda militants in Mosul.
Kagan stated that the plan has been “completely derailed.”
Derek Harvey also pushed for more U.S. troops in Iraq.
In order to support Iraqi Security forces, Harvey said, “We’re going to need, in my judgement, about 15,000 or more enhancement of U.S. force structure in theater. We need probably two brigades. We need a mixed aviation brigade. You need some artillery. You need enhanced direct action SOF operational capabilities. Direct action brings you the intelligence, which you then share and then allows you to go after those networks.”
He also added, “I’m not advising that we put troops on the ground in combat outposts in Ramadi, clearing streets and communities and neighborhoods in a direct action way. But we need to be out there enabling and providing support and protection for Sunni area tribal militias … It’s hard to have influence if you don’t skin in the game.”
Keane stated that more U.S. troops are needed and specifically advised serving as forward air controllers to direct air power and attack helicopters, as well as more equipment to support ground forces, such unmanned aerial vehicles, attack helicopters, and transport planes.
“The war in Iraq is largely close combat, urban warfare, which demands the bombs be guided from our airplanes to the ground by people on the ground,” he stated.
“Seventy-five percent of the sorties that we’re currently running with our attack aircraft come back without dropping bombs, mostly because they cannot acquire the target or properly identify the target.”
The Obama administration has depended on airstrikes and local forces to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIL. Many military officers and analysts don’t believe this strategy is working. President Barack Obama has pressed that the U.S. is not losing the war against ISIL.
According to PressTv, Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic, “I don’t think we’re losing.”
He also described the incident in Ramadi as a tactical setback.
He blames the situation on Iraqi security forces for lack of training and reinforcement. “They have been there essentially for a year without sufficient reinforcements,” he added.