Former SecDef Panetta, Gates Hammer Obama on ISIS Handling


** FILE ** Former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. (Associated Press)

Two former defense secretaries who served under President Obama are now criticizing his latest strategy to combat Islamic State militants.

** FILE ** Former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. (Associated Press)
** FILE ** Former Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. (Associated Press)

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told CBS Evening News on Friday that the terrorist group rose to power because the U.S. pulled out of Iraq too quickly and waited too long to act in Syria.

“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq,” Mr. Panetta said in an interview set to air on “60 Minutes,” CBSreported Friday.

Mr. Panetta said the entire national security team urged Mr. Obama to give more support to rebels fighting in Syria against Bashar al-Assad.



“The real key was how can we develop a leadership group among the opposition that would be able to take control. And my view was to have leverage to do that, we would have to provide the weapons and the training in order for them to really be wiling to work with us in that effort,” Mr. Panetta said, CBS reported.

Mr. Panetta’s predecessor, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, also criticized the president’s strategy saying that air strikes will not solve the problem.





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