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President Barack Obama’s top military adviser said Tuesday that the campaign against ISIS “won’t look like ‘shock and awe’” but will be “persistent and sustainable" as the U.S. and its allies work to degrade the terror group's capabilities.
In testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey also suggested that American military advisers could accompany Iraqi troops on raids against ISIS, despite promises from the White House of no American 'boots on the ground.'
"Our military advisors will help the Iraqis conduct campaign planning, arrange for enabler and logistics support, and coordinate Coalition contributions," Dempsey said. "If we reach the point where I believe our advisors should accompany Iraqi troops on attacks against specific ISIL targets, I will recommend that to the President."
Dempsey said that the current plan to go after ISIS without U.S. troops on the ground in the region is "appropriate" at this time but that he could change his recommendations to the president in the future.
"This coalition is the appropriate way forward and I believe that will prove true. But if it fails to be true and there are threats to the United States, then I of course would go back to the president and make a recommendation that may include the use of US military ground forces," he said.
Also on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel again urged Congress to authorize the mission to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels.
“This will not be an easy or brief effort,” Hagel said. “We are at war with ISIL, as we are with al Qaeda.”
The hearing was interrupted at least three times by Code Pink anti-war protesters, who shouted “No more war!”
“You’re acting very warlike yourself,” panel chairman Sen. Carl Levin commented as one protester was asked to leave the hearing room.
"I always appreciate special attention from this group," said a smiling Sen. John McCain after another interruption.