Wisconsin Congressional Delegation Largely Supports Obama’s Plan For Fighting ISIS

Some Members Do Have Reservations, And Disagree Whether Ground Troops Should Be Considered

Sens. Tammy Baldwin, left, and Ron Johnson. Photo: Jay Rockefeller (CC-BY).

President Barack Obama’s Wednesday night speech outlining his strategy for deploying airstrikes against the Islamic State group has been met with support from members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation, though some have reservations.

U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., likes the idea of fighting the group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, with an American-led coalition. She also thinks it’s commendable that Obama is not going to use U.S. combat troops.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., however, said that Obama shouldn’t rule out the use of ground troops.

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“Just about every military expert you talk to (has) already declared it will not work,” said Johnson. “Air power can contain. Air power can certainly disrupt and degrade, but it can’t defeat a group like ISIS.”

As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Johnson said he’s been told that the Islamic State group recruits 30 to 50 suicide bombers every month.

“They’re recruiting off the Internet effectively,” said Johnson. “Their troop strength is growing. It wouldn’t be that difficult to start funneling some of those suicide bombers into the west. There are thousands of those jihadists with western passports. Some of them hold American passports.”

U.S. Sean Duffy of Weston agrees that the Islamic State group has aims to attack American soil: “They’ve made no bones about it. They want to come to America and they want to do America harm and they want to kill as many Americans as possible.”

Both Johnson and Duffy say Obama needs both funding and guidance from Congress. Duffy said a meeting on Thursday morning of the House Republican Conference backed Obama.

“When the vote comes up next week, you will see Congress be very supportive. Now, we may have some tweaks and some different ideas that we will make sure we present,” said Duffy.

Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, expects action by Congress earlier rather than later next week. He said there will and should be debate on a strategy to defeat the Islamic State group.

“We’re not talking about weeks or months with this campaign. We’re talking years,” said Kind. “This is incredibly complicated. Do we have an exit ramp? What does the definition of success look like in this instance? How much is this going to cost the American people?”

Kind said he believes airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, along with attacks from Iraqi and Kurdish ground forces, will destroy the group.

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