Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, is highly critical of the Pentagon's plan to send additional special operations forces to Iraq and Syria to fight ISIS.
"Sending more U.S. ground troops is a mistake,'' Murphy said in a statement Tuesday. "Though tempting to try to make up the inadequacies of local forces with superior U.S. personnel, the slow build-up of U.S. combat soldiers inside Syria and Iraq risks repeating the mistake of the Iraq War – believing that extremism can be defeated by U.S. troops absent local political and military capacity."
Murphy's statement came in response to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter's announcement that the U.S. will deploy additional special forces to Iraq and Syria.
"As I warned in October, deploying troops to Syria in the middle of a civil war inevitably risks drawing U.S. forces into direct combat with a proliferating number of armed groups and foreign militaries, a quagmire that could involve us for years to come. U.S. ground troops can kill a lot of bad guys, but as we learned in Iraq, our presence has the effect of drawing two enemy fighters into battle for every one we kill. We cannot defeat ISIS without the commitment of the local forces and populations that live next to them, and we cannot win this fight for them.
“ISIS is the number one threat in the region, and defeating them must remain our focus. But a plan to defeat ISIS does not involve U.S. boots on the ground. The U.S. should help stand up an inclusive Iraqi fighting force capable of taking the fight to ISIS, continue airstrikes and special operations missions against key ISIS targets, significantly ramp up our humanitarian assistance, and work with our allies and others in the region toward a political solution. None of this requires an expansion of U.S. ground operations in Syria or Iraq.
“Ultimately, Congress needs to embrace its constitutional obligation and hold a vote to authorize military action against ISIS. Today's announcement of new ground troops in the Middle East is further evidence that we are at war in the Middle East again, and Congress should have the guts to authorize and set parameters around this new fight."