Congress wants ISIS fight strategy explanation

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014 shows fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria.


WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made a big announcement Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

“We’re sending, on President (Barack) Obama’s orders, and the chairman’s and my advice, special operations forces to Syria to support the fight against ISIL,” Carter said.

The special operations forces will be added to the fewer than 50 already on the ground. Carter did not specify how many would be sent.

Some in Congress have expressed skepticism about the way Obama is approaching the fight against the Islamic State militant group, also known as ISIS and ISIL.

“We need to start with the overall strategy,” Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Ohio, said.

Stivers, who fought in Iraq 10 years ago, wants action against ISIS, but not without a new strategy that includes help from nations bordering Syria.

“When the faces of soldiers on the ground don’t look like the faces of the civilians on the battlefield, it does make it harder to build trust,” Stivers said. “It does need to include a local contingent whether it’s Kurdish forces and other regional nations.”

An authorization of military force (AUMF) means Congress would vote to give Obama the power to fight the militants. To get their permission, the president would have to explain his strategy and listen to congressional input.

The Obama administration claims the AUMF passed under President George W. Bush in 2001 to fight terrorists in Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks also encompasses the fight against ISIS, which means Obama does not need Congress’ permission to send military forces. But many in Congress feel a new AUMF should be brought forth.

Some Democrats, like Rep.David Cicilline of Rhode Island, also want the president to explain his strategy.

“I have been urging the administration for some time now to lay out its strategic objectives, its goals, how it intends to achieve those objectives in this fight, and come to Congress and receive the authorization for the use of force,” he said. “I don’t think we should continue to engage more deeply in a conflict without authorization that’s required by the Constitution.”

There are several proposals from different representatives and senators, but none have come up for a vote in Congress.

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