- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The chairman of the House Committee on Armed Services said Wednesday that President Obama’s war strategy in Iraq is failing and the commander in chief needs a new plan.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican, said Mr. Obama, who visits the Pentagon on Wednesday for an update on the war against the Islamic State terrorist group, needs to consider new options — including American ground troops — for the air-war-only strategy.

“Evidence is mounting that an ‘Iraq first’ approach focused on airstrikes isn’t degrading ISIL,” said Mr. McKeon, using on of the Islamic State’s acronyms. “From Kobani to Baghdad, they are using their Syrian sanctuary to make gains.

“The president needs to adopt a broader strategy if we are to protect our interests. He needs to walk out of the Pentagon willing to put new options on the table, rather than continuing to rule them out.”

For more than a month, Mr. McKeon has advocated putting a relatively small number of U.S. ground troops into the battle to aid the beleaguered Iraq Security Force. The Iraqi troops retreated en masse in June when the Islamic State invaded from Syria and gobbled up terrain.

“This will take troops,” Mr. McKeon said. “It will not take divisions.”

The Islamic State now is focusing on taking new territory in western Iraq, with a prime goal of conquering Baghdad’s international airport and attacking the capital. Iraqi forces have shown a willingness to fight in the west, but the Islamic State last week claimed a new victory — the western Iraqi town of Hit.

The Washington Times reported Monday that, after two months of U.S. airstrikes, the Islamic State controls the same number of towns — 15 — and is maneuvering to strike Baghdad.

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