Congressman Thomas J. Rooney

Representing the 17th District of Florida

We Need A Winning Strategy, Mr. President

Oct 13, 2015
Op-Ed

Published in the Charlotte Sun

By: Congressman Tom Rooney

The Obama Administration’s grand plan to train and equip Syrian Rebels to defeat the ever strengthening Islamic State has come to an end. Announced early Friday morning, the President has accepted that his $500 million arm-and-train program has failed. The sad part is, are any of us really that surprised?

In the ten months since the Pentagon announced and began to implement this program, here is what ISIS has been able to accomplish.

As I write this, ISIS fighters have seized villages close to the Syrian city of Aleppo, which is just the latest in a pattern of defeats in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and more. For months, ISIS has been pillaging Syria’s Cultural Heritage and destroying UNESCO World Heritage cites. Most recently, they destroyed the 1,800 year old monumental arch known as the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra. The collective efforts of ISIS and other terror organizations are becoming more sophisticated in their efforts to recruit US citizens and other westerners to flood to the Middle East and take up arms. Most tragically, recent reports estimate in the year and a half since ISIS declared a “global caliphate” in June 2014, they have executed more than 10,000 people in Syria and Iraq.

Rarely does a day go by where our news cycle fails to mention the atrocities committed by the ever growing terrorist organization.

But for some reason, as the Islamic State continues to make its way through the Middle East, destroying anything and anyone that gets in its way, the United States has done nothing. We've conducted "targeted" air strikes without committing the ground assets necessary to assess their impact, trained just a handful - the prevailing number is now under 10 - of moderate rebels, and watched idly as ISIS takes control of village after village, leaving a trail of murder, torture, rape and kidnapping in its wake.

For months I have called upon President Obama to present to Congress a new plan to defeat ISIS, one that actually stands the chance of succeeding. One that doesn’t rely on underwhelming force. One that doesn’t require us to cross our fingers and hope that someone else will come in to save the day.

“Hope” is not a strategy that is going to take down the Islamic State.

Today, I wrote a letter to the President requesting that he submit to Congress as soon as possible an updated strategy, including the resources required, to win the war against the Islamic State. We need to put forward a new strategy that is worthy of the sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are willing to take. We need a winning strategy to achieve our shared goal of destroying the Islamic State. We need to take the handcuffs off our military, and let them fight and win. We need a serious commitment of limited – limited – military might. Otherwise, ISIS will continue to grow, with its ultimate goal to attack and destroy our nation.