U.S Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took to the Pentagon lectern Thursday along side General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the two top defense officials making clear that the ongoing terror campaign and threats being hurled by ISIS were very real, and legitimate, concerns.
The two also said that attacks such as the recent U.S. airstrikes against ISIS to aid Kurdish and Iraqi troops were not enough to stop the Islamic terrorist group, leaving the door open to future involvement and military action. At the same time, they didn’t go so far as to confirm further U.S. military action in ISIS controlled hotbeds such as eastern Syria, reports CNN.
“Can they (ISIS) be defeated without addressing that part of the organization that resides in Syria? The answer is no,” General Dempsey told reporters at the Pentagon briefing.
Reporters responded by digging for meaning, pressing for any hint of pending U.S. Military actions against ISIS in Syria.
“We’re looking at all options,” said Hagel, not elaborating on what those options are. But the Defense Secretary did say that the United States was “very clear-eyed” about ISIS.
Alluding to a comparison with Al Queda, Hagel pulled no punches in his analysis of the ISIS threat and potential danger:
“They are beyond just a terrorist group. They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess,” said Hagel. “This is beyond anything we have seen, and we must prepare for everything. And the only way you do that is that you take a cold, steely hard look at it and get ready.”
The horrific beheading by ISIS of American journalist, James Foley, an act the Islamic terrorist group posted online as a threat, was also acknowledged by Hagel, the defense Secretary offering his condolences to the Foley family.
While ISIS threatened to execute another American hostage, believed to be journalist Steven Sotloff, if the United States continued to pummel ISIS positions with airstrikes, the threat seems to have gone unheeded as the strikes continue.
An effort to save James Foley and other hostages earlier this Summer was also strongly defended by Hagel, reports NBC News, the Defense Secretary saying the Obama administration had an abundance of intelligence to green light the operation:
“This operation, by the way, was a flawless operation, but the hostages were not there,” said Hagel.
General Dempsey backed Hagel, saying he strongly believed the hostages had been at the target location at some point.
Unfortunately, Foley, and any other hostages, were no longer there when the rescuers arrived. However, a resulting firefight with the Islamic terrorists at the site reportedly left several of the ISIS militants dead.