WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration’s fight against the Islamic State is at risk of becoming a “grinding failure for our nation,” an influential Republican senator said Tuesday, illustrating the mounting frustrations in Congress with the U.S. strategy to defeat the extremist group.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said U.S. military commanders are being hampered by an overly cautious Obama administration.
McCain drew a parallel between the campaign against the Islamic State and the war in Vietnam, a conflict he served in as a Navy pilot. He was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for more than five years.
“As a young military officer, I bore witness to the failed policy of gradual escalation that ultimately led to our nation’s defeat in the Vietnam War,” he wrote. “I fear this administration’s grudging incrementalism in the war against the Islamic State risks another slow, grinding failure for our nation.”
Carter has described the U.S. as making considerable strides against the Islamic State. He told reporters at the Pentagon last month that the U.S. progress in eliminating members of the group’s “cabinet” was hampering its ability to conduct and inspire attacks against the West.
But McCain wrote he has talked to military commanders both on the ground and at the Pentagon, and those conversations “have led me to the disturbing, yet unavoidable conclusion that they have been reduced from considering what it will take to win to what they will be allowed to do by this administration.”
In the letter to Carter, McCain said his committee needs a full accounting of the current scale and scope of U.S. military operations against the Islamic State. Among the figures he wants are the numbers of U.S. military and civilian personnel in Iraq and Syria and the length of time needed to retake Islamic State strongholds in both countries.
McCain asked for a response from Carter within the next two weeks.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.