Leon Panetta, who served as Obama’s CIA director and Pentagon chief, said that the president should not rule out the option of deploying ground troops to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a conflict that may last “30 years” and extend to other places.
During a video interview with USAToday about his new book, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, Panetta was asked if he though it was unwise for President Obama to rule out boots on the ground in the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS and ISIL) in Syria and Iraq.
Presidents “ought to keep all of your options on the table,” he said. “I think that’s always a smart way to deal with it because the enemy then never knows exactly what you may or may not do.”
“I think I understand where the president is coming from in that he is not looking for another invasion of another country where you got 100,000/150,000 or our troops at war as we did in Iraq,” he continued. “But we may very well need special forces to be able to work not only with the people on the ground but to also help in providing that targeting that is absolutely important to the effectiveness of an air campaign.”
He also told USAToday that Americans should prepare themselves for a “kind of a 30-year war” against the Islamic State that will also include combating threats from countries such as Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and other Third World countries.