“When it comes to Iraq and Syria, do you agree with me that if we take ISIL on — and when I say ‘we,’ the United States and the region — we must win?” Graham asked.
“I agree, senator,” Dunford replied.
This was only one of a series of yes-or-no questions the Republican from South Carolina asked Dunford during the hearing. As reported by the Marine Corps Times, Graham followed up by asking how many Marines were involved in the first and second battles of Fallujah to which Dunford estimated 6,000 and 14,000 respectively.
When asked how many members of our military are in Iraq today, Dunford replied approximately 3,000 troops, 500 of them being Marines. Graham then asked if Dunford thought sending ground troops to assist regional forces was “the best way to degrade or destroy” the Islamic State to which Dunford objected.
According to him commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Llyod Austin, would soon make a recommendation as to how force presence in Iraq might change. He did agree with Graham in his beliefs that the Islamic State is a threat to not only Iraq and surrounding areas, but to the United States as well.
“So, anyone who thinks that defeating or destroying ISIL is their problem, not ours, is making a huge mistake?” Graham asked Dunford and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert. Both agreed with him.
“To both of you, and to those who serve under you, I am sorry that some of you may have to go back,” Graham said. “But I think you know better than anyone else why you may have to go back. And the only commitment I will make, as a senator from South Carolina, is if you go back, you go back to win. And that we get this right this time.”
On Wednesday in a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey, and Secretary of State John Kerry will inform lawmakers on Obama’s request which will allow the U.S. to commit more efforts to fighting the Islamic State.