According to several military experts, it will take a coalition of 50,000 troops on the ground to truly defeat ISIS. At least, that is what the former army chief of staff who spent more than four years on duty in Iraq believes.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno offered his perspective during a panel discussion moderated by Fox News for the Foundation of Defense of Democracies recently.
Odierno has received the George P. Shultz award for distinguished service. During his speech, he emphasized that the 50,000 would not be solely U.S. troops. He did maintain, however, that the coalition would need to be led by the United States.
The general commanded all U.S. forces from 2008 to 2010. While he supports a unified country, he believes that the U.S. government needs to consider whether Iraq has already been divided into three sectors by the sectarian violence between the Shia, Sunni and Kurd.
“Today, I think it’s becoming harder and harder to have a unified Iraq,” he argued. “And the reason is I believe the influence of Iran inside of Iraq is so great, they will never allow the Sunnis to participate in a meaningful way in the government. If that doesn’t happen, you cannot have a unified Iraq.”
Odierno was against pulling troops from Iraq in the first place, and argues that Obama’s decision was a self-inflicted wound, making it harder for the U.S. government to independently assess what was happening on the ground.
“We lost what we call our human intelligence network on the ground,” he claims. “So we have to depend on Iraqis, which they collect intelligence, but they do it a little bit differently than we do and they look for different things.”