Defense Secretary: ISIS Would Love Large US Ground Presence

Defends Ongoing Use of Special Forces, Airstrikes

Facing growing calls from Congressional hawks to escalate the war against ISIS with a dramatic increase in the number of ground troops, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter defended the current strategy of sending primarily special forces, insisting the US can’t “substitute” for a local force fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Carter added that ISIS “would love nothing more than a large presence of US forces,” saying it would not only greatly help ISIS recruitment, but that the US “could well turn those fighting ISIS or inclined to resist their rule into fighting us instead.”

Indeed, the US has already been risking that with its recent escalation of special forces units, with some Iraqi Shi’ite militias talking about changing their focus from fighting ISIS to resisting the return of US troops who occupied the country for so many years.

In Syria, the US options for sending more troops are even more limited, as apart from a Kurdish faction in the far northeast there are few US “allies” with any meaningful territory to be deployed into, and the US continues to resist any coordination with the Syrian government itself.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of