Local News

Ret. Ft. Bragg general: Ground troops likely to fight ISIL

Posted September 16, 2014 7:04 p.m. EDT
Updated September 16, 2014 7:11 p.m. EDT

— A former Fort Bragg Commander says the United States should use all of its resources to defeat Islamic State forces in the Middle East.

Ret. Gen. Dan McNeill – who commanded troops at Fort Bragg and helped lead the fight against the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – said Tuesday that, while unmanned drone air strikes will slow down the terrorist group, ground troops will eventually be needed to win the fight.

"Boots on the ground give you a truer picture," McNeill said. "I'm not advocating boots on the ground to pursue this particular threat, but I don't back away from my statement. If it is as serious as some people say, then why aren't we applying all elements of American power to it?"

McNeill said America can expect a long fight against the current terrorist threat.

"Like it or not, we have to take it on," he said.

His remarks came the same day that Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he will recommend ground troops if President Barack Obama's current strategy of expanded airstrikes and training Syrian rebels fails.

Obama has insisted no soldiers will fight on the ground in the military mission.

"If there are threats to the United States, then I, of course, would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of U.S. military ground forces," Dempsey said.

In a nationally televised address last week, the president said the U.S. must "degrade" and "destroy" the extremist group.

The U.S. began attacking the group known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) with airstrikes in Iraq last month. Since then, the group has beheaded two American journalists who were being held captive in Syria.

As part of the effort against the Islamic State group, Secretary of State John Kerry formally announced Saturday that retired Marine Gen. John Allen was joining the State Department as a special presidential envoy to coordinate the international coalition.

Allen worked with international allies as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan from 2011-2013.