By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, February 11, 2015, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) said that President Obama has not articulated an adequate strategy to defeat ISIS. US Representative Byrne issued a statement following President Obama’s submission to Congress for a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Rep. Byrne said, “I told Secretary Hagel when he was before our Committee back in December that in order for me to support a request for an Authorization for Use of Military Force that I needed to hear the President’s strategy for winning the war against ISIL. I have not heard an adequate strategy yet.”
Rep. Byrne continued, “I hope a clear strategy is forthcoming. If it is, even though we may have to change some of the precise wording, then I want to do what I can to support the effort to get rid of these people because they clearly mean harm to the American people. I want to be able to support an AUMF, but I need to hear a strategy from the President first.”
On Wednesday, the President asked Congress to formally authorize the use of military force in the war against ISIS, which has already been going on for six months.
President Obama said, “Now, make no mistake, this is a difficult mission and it will remain difficult for some time. Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL is going to lose.”
In less than four years, we have gone from a relatively peaceful democratically elected Iraq to chaos and genocide requiring much greater American force. Most experts acknowledge now that it was a mistake for U.S. forces to leave the country in 2011. Whether through bad intelligence or naivety on the part of the administration, ISIS, which the President dismissed as the “Al Qaeda Junior Varsity team,” was severely underestimated and international efforts to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria may have helped create the conditions in that country for the ISIS terrorist movement to thrive.
ISIS has now seized a nation wide swath of territory in Syria and Iraq for what they call the beginning of a new Caliphate. An estimated 13 million people now live under the violent rule of a collection of international terrorists that began with remnants of Al Qaeda’s force in Iraq who retreated into Syria following their defeat by American forces in the country in the Iraq War.
The administration estimates that ISIS’s force in Syria and Iraq has been re-enforced by as many as 20,000 fighters from over 90 countries, including an estimated 3,400 from western countries and over 150 from the US That number is fluid as international fighters enter and leave the country. Air Strikes by U.S. forces and our allies to this point have not dislodged the terrorists.
President Obama was joined by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry (D) and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R), when he outlined the parameters of the new AUMF.
The President is asking for a “systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes” support and training for forces on the ground and humanitarian assistance. He is not asking for the deployment of American ground troops in Iraq and Syria.
Many military experts have publicly questioned if the Administration is still now underestimating just how bad the situation is on the ground and question the effectiveness of a strategy that does not involve American ground troops.
President Obama said, “I am convinced that the US should not get back into another ground war in the Middle East — it’s not in our national security interest and not necessary for us to defeat ISIL.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner said in a statement, “If we are going to defeat this enemy, we need a comprehensive military strategy and a robust authorization, not one that limits our options.” “Any authorization for the use of military force must give our military commanders the flexibility and authorities they need to succeed and protect our people…I have concerns that the president’s request does not meet this standard.”
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.