Top military official: 15,000 ground troops needed to destroy ISIS

In this Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014 photo, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Speaking to a small group of reporters after meeting with his French counterpart on Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014 in Paris, Dempsey said it will take three or four months to begin the $500 million training program, which the House approved on Wednesday and sent to the Senate, where members of both parties predicted easy passage. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, made a statement this week that as the U.S.-led airstrike continues, ground troops will be needed to assist in the fight against ISIS.

The New York Post reported Dempsey made the statement as Britain, Belgium and Denmark committed to join the bombing campaign to wipe out the terrorist group.  The coalition also includes five Arab countries in cooperation with Kurdish forces and Iraqi tribal fighters.

“The answer is yes.  There has to be a ground component in the campaign,” said Dempsey.  “We need 12,000 to 15,000 to reclaim lost territory.”

Just days after ISIS released a video showing the beheading of British hostage David Haines, the British Parliament agreed to join the coalition.

“This is about psychopathic terrorists that are trying to kill us, and we do have to realize that, whether we like it or not, they have already declared war on us,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron.  “There isn’t a ‘walk on by’ option.  There isn’t an option of just hoping this will go away.”

It is estimated that ISIS has more than 30,000 troops, which includes recruits from Western nations.  The group has been changing tactics by using motorcycles instead of attention-getting convoys.  It is also placing their trademark black flags on buildings that are empty to create confusion.

According to KITV, Dempsey’s position was quickly dismissed by the White House.  President Barack Obama has consistently pledged that U.S. troops would not deployed as part of the campaign.  He has promised that the efforts to defeat and destroy ISIS would not include American “boots on the ground.”

Obviously Dempsey feels different.  “To be clear, if we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIS targets, I will recommend that to the president,” he said.

Rear Admiral John Kirby, Pentagon spokesman, regarded Dempsey’s statement as hypothetical.  Kirby stated that Dempsey was speaking about his “best military advice” in the case U.S. troops were needed in advice-and-assist roles with “lower level units.”

“If he felt that the strategy as it was being proposed and executed was failing than he would not hesitate to change his advice to the commander in chief about maybe putting advisors in lower level units out there,” Kirby said.  “But he also said that he supports the strategy that we are executing right now, and he also said that he doesn’t believe we are at that state right now.

According to the latest CNN/ORC poll, Americans are worried about the threat of ISIS.  It found that 87 percent were very concerned or somewhat concerned about the terrorist group.  Approximately 75 percent of Americans support U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and Syria while 38 percent support U.S. ground troops as well.


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