UNION LEADER: Sen. Ayotte outlines her plan to defeat ISIS As originally appearing in The Union Leader
By KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
GOFFSTOWN — While criticizing the Obama administration, Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Monday outlined her comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS and stop radical Islamist terrorism, which she said is one of the nation’s greatest challenges.
“The number one job of our federal government is to protect the American people and keep our country secure,” Ayotte said during a speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College. “Without security, we can’t have freedom. And without security, we can’t have economic prosperity.”
According to Ayotte, President Barack Obama and his team has failed to implement a serious and urgent strategy to address the threat posed by ISIS, claiming the administration’s strategy has been belated and incremental.
Ayotte said the premature departure of American troops from Iraq in 2011 created fertile ground for ISIS to emerge as the administration allegedly failed to conduct an aggressive campaign of special forces raids and failed to develop an effective plan to arm, train and equip moderate forces in Syria.
“It is not enough to simply criticize the administration’s strategy — it is important to advocate for what a more effective strategy would look like,” she said during Monday’s Politics & Eggs event.
Ayotte highlighted a multifaceted plan that she believes will be aggressive enough to combat the enemy and address national security.
Included in that plan is a call to increase the number of joint terminal attack controllers in Iraq and Syria, implement a campaign of regular special operation raids, undertake an air campaign against ISIS using A-10 aircraft, redoubling efforts to eliminate the Manbij Pocket in Syria and ensure that the Iraqi Kurds have what they need as the United States focuses on retaking ISIS controlled territory such as Mosul.
Ayotte’s plan also includes a more assertive approach to Russian activities with Syria.
“Russia’s supposed withdrawal from Syria was mere propaganda. Russia has been bombing the moderate forces supporting our efforts in Syria,” she said. “The bottom line is that the administration’s Russia reset has been an abject failure … Russia has undermined our efforts at every turn.”
American officials must push NATO to play a more active role in training and advising partner forces, according to Ayotte, who said NATO countries — especially Germany — need to be pushed to increase their defense spending.
Furthermore, she said a detention and interrogation policy must be adopted for captured ISIS members that will prevent their return to the battlefield while also gathering essential intelligence to prevent future attacks.
She is also recommending that the United States work with Turkey to tighten its border with Syria, and establish a safe zone in Syria for displaced Syrians.
“A successful strategy must also include political and diplomatic components,” said Ayotte, describing Jordan as an important partner that is under incredible strain.
At home, it is crucial to ensure that policies and processes for vetting visa applicants is secure and reliable, she said, stressing that law enforcement must have the tools needed to prevent future attacks.
“Implementing the military portion of this strategy and addressing these threats require a strong military,” acknowledged Ayotte.