The Obama administration is weighing moving U.S. troops closer to the front lines in Iraq and Syria while preparing to “intensify” the air campaign against the Islamic State, officials said Tuesday.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday that the military plans a “higher and heavier rate of strikes” against ISIS targets.
Separately, a senior U.S. official confirmed to Fox News that President Obama is considering proposals to move U.S. troops closer to the front lines in the fight.The Washington Post first reported that national security advisers are proposing putting a limited number of Special Operations forces in Syria, and U.S. advisers closer to the fight in Iraq.
The changes would need approval from Obama, but the plans reflect an effort to recharge the campaign against ISIS — particularly after a U.S. train-and-equip program to help Syrian rebels was effectively ended.
“The end state is to defeat ISIL,” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr., testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, acknowledging: “No one is satisfied with our progress to date.”
At the same hearing, Carter described a changing approach to the fight against the Islamic State, focusing largely on Raqqa, the Islamic State-declared capital in Syria, and Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in western Iraq.
Carter said the U.S. would intensify the air campaign against the Islamic State with additional U.S. and coalition aircraft and heavier airstrikes. His testimony came as Russia is conducting its own airstrikes in Syria, saying it aims to help the Syrian government defeat the Islamic State and other terrorists.
The U.S.-led effort “will include more strikes against IS high-value targets as our intelligence improves, and also its oil enterprise, which is a critical pillar of IS’s financial infrastructure,” he said.