Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, said that the Islamic State terrorist organization is not contained, and has not been at anytime since 2010.
These remarks directly contradict a statement made by President Obama prior to the Paris terrorist attacks, when he asserted, “we have contained them [Islamic State].”
“We have not contained ISIL,” Dunford said in response to a question from Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA). The Islamic State has been “tactically” contained in some areas, but “strategically they have spread since 2010,” Dunford remarked in his testimony before the House committee.
When asked by Rep. Forbes whether the United States currently has a strategy to defeat the terror group, Dunford said that “the right components for a strategy” against the Islamic State “are in place.”
The remarks contrast starkly from comments made by President Obama on the morning of the same day that radical jihadists committed several attacks through Paris, killing 130 people and wounding hundreds more.
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them,” President Obama told ABC News at the time.
Dunford added that the Islamic State not only threatens Iraq and Syria, but has shown a willingness to wage jihad in other countries, such as Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Lebanon.
Dunford also seemed to disagree with Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, who said in his opening statement that America is “at war” with IS. The Marine Corps General replied to a question by Rep. Forbes whether the U.S. was indeed at war with the terror group: “We are technically not at war.”
During his testimony, the Joint Chiefs Chair applauded U.S. forces for going after the Islamic State’s oil cartels. “We estimate that approximately 43 percent of the revenue stream that ISIL derives from oil has been affected over the past 30 days,” he said.
The hearing commenced with news that the United States is set to deploy more special forces operators into the field to assist anti-IS fighters, and to sometimes carry out “unilateral operations” in Syria if necessary.
“These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders,” Secretary of Defense carter told the House Committee. “This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.”