Sen. Chris Murphy Reacts to Pentagon Plans for More Troops to Iraq and Syria

"We can't do the fighting for them." Sen. Chris Murphy

By:  Lucy Nalpathanchil

The Pentagon has announced it will send additional Special Operations forces to Iraq and Syria to help defeat the so-called Islamic State. The news shouldn't be a surprise according to Connecticut's U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, but he said it is concerning.

Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the House Armed Services Committee that additional Special Operations forces will work with the Iraqi government to defend the country's borders while strengthening the Iraqi security forces. The troops will also be ready to conduct unilateral operations into Syria.

Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he feared this from the beginning: that the U.S. would be dragged into what he called a quagmire inside Syria, where a civil war has been raging for four years.

He said that ultimately, ISIS or ISIL cannot be defeated without a commitment from local people on the ground.

"We can't do this fighting for them," Murphy said. "And I'm worried that as we send more and more troops into this fight, we are going to postpone, not expedite, the date at which we actually defeat ISIL, because we aren't getting the buy-in that we need from the people that have to live next to them every single day."

Additional special operations forces will work with the Iraqi government to defend the country's borders while strengthening the Iraqi Security forces.
Murphy said the same goes for Iraq, where local forces must work harder to keep the country secure from ISIL.

The Obama administration has stressed it won't commit to putting thousands of American troops there, but Murphy said what the U.S. is currently doing in the region is still problematic.

"We're at war with ISIL and we should be but Congress hasn't actually authorized it," Murphy said. "I think we need to have a debate right now about committing this country to a war with this vicious terrorist group instead of just allowing this President to do it without any checks or balance from the legislative branch."

Murphy said he hopes Congress will take up that debate by the end of the year.