An effective retaliation against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL) would require 100,000 boots on the ground, according to the former CIA deputy director.
President Obama has repeatedly said there will be no American ground troops involved in the U.S.-led campaign against ISIS.
“Unless the coalition is willing to put more ground troops into Iraq and possibly into Syria, there is very little we can do to respond,” Michael Morell, the former No. 2 at the CIA, told “CBS This Morning” on Wednesday.
CBS News senior security contributor Morell acknowledged that there is no desire in the U.S. or in Western Europe to deploy 100,000 ground forces to fight ISIS.
Robert Gates and Leon Panetta have suggested that ground troops are necessary to defeat ISIS. They both served as Secretary of Defense under Obama and have been vocal critics of the president’s strategy against the terrorist group.
According to the State Department, ISIS can muster between 20,000 and 31,500 fighters across Iraq and Syria, including hundreds of Westerners.
About a dozen or more Americans are believed to be among the Westerners fighting for the jihadist group.
Morell suggested what he referred to as a possible, but difficult to implement, alternative to putting boots on the ground.
“Take out the leadership. This is a hierarchical organization, a small leadership. That would make a difference,” he said, later adding, “That takes very, very good intelligence.”