Trump vows to 'totally obliterate' ISIS from the face of the earth
President Trump vowed Friday to 'totally obliterate ISIS' (Islamic State, Daesh) as the Pentagon prepares to deliver a range of 'options' for how to go after the group that could include a boost in U.S. forces.
President Trump on January 28 ordered a preliminary review and a draft plan to defeat ISIS within 30 days. Trump vowed in a speech to CPAC Friday: 'Working with our allies we will eradicate this evil from the face of the earth,' pledging to 'totally obliterate ISIS.' He spoke as the Pentagon is preparing to present a range of options next week that would include a broad effort against violent extremists groups in response to the president's request for a plan to defeat ISIS. The plan could extend beyond just going after ISIS to include other extremist groups, and could even include beefing up U.S. forces inside Syria.
Remarks from some of the president's top military advisors could hint at a proposed increase in U.S. forces in Syria, where 500 U.S. special operators are assisting local forces in their efforts.
Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Wednesday he was “concerned about maintaining momentum” against ISIS in Syria, adding that it might be a possibility to “take on a larger burden ourselves,” McClatchy reported.
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday in remarks at the Brookings institution in Washington: 'We’ve been given a task to go to the president with options to accelerate the defeat of ISIS specifically, but obviously other violent extremist groups as well.' That would include efforts to take on Al Qaeda, who has reportedly been taking up positions vacated by weakening local forces. "We will go to him with a full range of options from which he can choose,' Dunford said.
Al Qaeda-linked groups have been making gains on rebel areas in northern Syria. The U.S. and allies have stopped providing supplies and ammunition to disparate groups in hopes of forging an alliance, the Washington Post reported. Some of Dunford's language indicated Trump's military chiefs would argue against half-measures. 'What we don't want to do is bring him options that solve one problem only to create a second problem,' Dunford said. Votel, who commands U.S. forces in the Middle East, has said more U.S. troops might be needed to take on ISIS. The U.S. currently relies on 500 special operations troops who are assisting local forces inside Syria.
Vice President Mike Pence referenced the campaign against ISIS in his remarks at CPAC Thursday. 'We're going to start off by rebuilding the American military. We'll restore the arsenal of democracy. We'll provide our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guard with the resources and training they need to accomplish their mission and come home safe,' Pence said. 'And we will hunt down and destroy ISIS at its source, so it can no longer threaten our nation or our families,' he said to huge applause.