WASHINGTON (CNN) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the US is building momentum against ISIS while some skeptical lawmakers say progress is too slow to keep up with the terrorists.
In the a month and a half since Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator John McCain says ISIS has caused or inspired hundreds of deaths: a Russian airliner downed over Egypt, a bombing in Beirut, the Paris attacks, and the San Bernardino shootings.
“In short, the threat is growing and evolving faster than the administration’s efforts to counter it,” said McCain.
“The reality is, we’re at war,” said Carter.
Defense Secretary Carter says even though ISIS isn’t contained, he thinks President Obama’s strategy is working, and expanding. He opened the possibility that U.S. military advisers could accompany Iraqi forces on the ground as they look to retake Ramadi from ISIS with Apache helicopters helping from the air.
“The US is prepared to assist Iraqi army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job,” said Carter.
Republican Senators on the panel challenged U.S. policy, they say it’s “drifting” and they want faster action.
“Are we going to be more aggressive going after these assets going forward?” said Senator Kelly Ayotte, (R) New Hampshire.
“Yes. We’ll be more aggressive. What makes it possible is intelligence,” said Carter.
Carter says it will take assistance asking lawmakers to free up 116 million dollars to help U.S. backed forces and emphasizing that other countries need to contribute more special forces, aircraft, training, and weapons.
“The international community, including allies and the coalition, has to step up before another attack like Paris,” said Carter. His message: ISIS is doing more, so the world must do more.
The Senate Hearing comes in the same week that President Obama spoke to the nation about fighting ISIS, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said US allies are close to sending their own special forces to help fight ISIS.
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