Former US secretary of defense Robert Gates says President Barack Obama’s plan to fight and defeat ISIL militants is not realistic and the US military cannot achieve its goals against the group without the help of the “boots on the ground”.
“What I believe, and what I suspect most military people believe, is that given the mission the president has assigned, which is degrade and destroy, that to be able to do that, some small number of American advisers, trainers, Special Forces and forward spotters, forward air controllers, are going to have to be in harm’s way,” Gates said.
He made the remarks in an appearance on ABC’s “This Week” as Obama has repeatedly said that the US military forces will not get engaged in “a combat mission” in Iraq.
Gates added that the White House should set the goal of pushing the ISIL out of Iraq instead of trying to destroy the militant group which he said is a “very ambitious” goal.
“I think destroying probably is ambitious, at least in the foreseeable future,” Gates said adding “But it is a realistic objective to try and push them out of Iraq and deny them a permanent foothold some place.”
“This is a generational conflict. And we need to understand that. We also need to be very modest about how we can shape the outcomes here,” said Gates. “And I think one of the things we need to do is step back, look at this kind of cauldron of violence and instability that’s going to be with us a long time and what is our strategy overall for the region? What do we want as an outcome?”