WASHINGTON (Sputnik), Michael Hughes — The US military needs to deploy Special Operations Forces (SOF) to Iraq and Syria to support indigenous military units and guide coalition airstrikes against ISIL, former Pentagon official Steven Bucci told Sputnik on Thursday.
"Embed our SOF with the local ‘boots on the ground’ — Iraqi, Kurdish, Syrian units… to train, advise, ‘spine stiffen’ and control a greatly enhanced amount of air power," Bucci, who serves as Director of National Security Policy at the Heritage Foundation, said.
On Wednesday, US Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno stated that the US military may consider embedding soldiers with Iraqi security forces if progress is not made in the campaign to defeat ISIL within several months.
Bucci argued that he has advocated Odierno’s approach since the beginning, because it is the same template that proved successful against the Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001 and early 2002.
"Yes, it puts more Americans at risk, but that is the job for the most professional troops we have," he added.
"ISIS [ISIL] must be crushed, and yes, I do mean crushed, to remove their recruitment allure," Bucci underscored.
If the United States does not completely crush ISIL soon, Bucci claimed, the extremist group’s mere survival is "essentially victory" and allows ISIL "to act as a magnet for all would be Islamist terrorists."
On Thursday morning, ISIL claimed responsibility for a deadly suicide car bombing in Baghdad that killed as many as 60 people and injured more than 200 others.
A 62-nation US-led coalition against ISIL has conducted more than 5,700 airstrikes since August 2014. The coalition, in cooperation with Iraqi security forces, has pushed ISIL back from some 30 percent of the territory it had controlled.
Bucci is a former US Special Forces commander, military assistant to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities.