The nation’s top ranking military officer contradicted his commander-in-chief, while testifying on Tuesday before the House Services Committee.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford stated, “We have not contained ISIL currently.”
His answer to a question by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., runs contrary to what Pres. Obama said last month in an interview with ABC News the day before the Nov. 13 Paris attacks.
“I don’t think they’re gaining strength. What is true is that from the start our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them,” Obama told George Stephanopoulos. “They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria, they’ll come in, they’ll leave, but you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain.”
The White House’s Ben Rhodes–deputy national security adviser for strategic communication–clarified that the president meant that ISIS had been contained from geographic expansion. “They had been on the march in both Iraq and Syria for some time but starting a year ago, we were able to halt that expansion,” Rhodes said according to Fox News.
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Forbes asked Dundford if ISIS has been contained at any time since 2010. The general responded that the terrorist organization has been “tactically” contained in areas in which they have operated since 2010, but added, “Strategically they have spread since 2010.”
Sec. of Defense Ash Carter announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would be sending additional special operations forces into Iraq and Syria. “He said these special operators will be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIS leaders. He did not offer troop numbers, but said it was being done in cooperation with the Iraqi government,” Fox News reported.
Carter said the special forces were going in to capitalize on gains made on the ground by local forces in Syria, as well as work with the Kurdish forces in Iraq to put additional pressure on ISIS.