CBS "Face the Nation" - Transcript: Islamic State Strategy


Date: Oct. 26, 2014
Issues: Defense


ROSE: Back now with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers.

Good morning.


ROSE: You just returned to Britain and other places, as I said.

The Brits have taken a position they will do what they can do in Iraq, but not in Syria.


ROSE: Were you successful in trying to change their mind?

ROGERS: Well, we had a lot of very constructive conversations, both with their parliamentary security committee folks and their intelligence services and defense individuals.

Let me say this, Charlie. One of the things that I think has shocked our British friends is this lack of strategy. I think that they will be with us if we can put together a coherent strategy for Syria and Iraq. I really do believe that.

ROSE: What kind of strategy that we need that we do not have now?

ROGERS: Well, if you think of what we're doing, we're really small pecks at a very big problem.

And so what we're going to need to do is, we're going to need to further engage our NATO allies. We're going to need to allow special forces capability soldiers both from Britain and United States and others to go downrange with these individuals that we have trained, both Iraq, the Peshmerga -- the Iraqi soldiers, Peshmerga, and even in Syria that would allow more effective fighting on the ground.

ROSE: That is putting combat troops on the ground, isn't it?

ROGERS: Well, I think we didn't have war with ISIS in the beginning. We had a war on semantics.

And that is just a dangerous place to be. I think when people think about boots on the ground, they're thinking big maneuver elements, divisions, brigades, battalions. No one is talking about that, although I don't think we should eliminate it. But nobody is talking about it.

ROSE: If necessary, you would recommend it? If the military says we need American boots on the ground in Syria to stop ISIS, you're in favor of it?

ROGERS: If that means -- well, here is my concern.

If we don't do this smaller, more effective thing now, we will get to the point where we're going to have to have big maneuver military elements. Special forces capabilities, special capability soldiers and intelligence officials are needed if you're going to be more impactful. If you put a 20-year plan together to beat ISIL, you will have 40 years of trouble.

ROSE: Let me move to another concern among many people. It is the idea of lone wolves, people in the United States or in Canada on their own. What kind of threat does that pose to our own national security?

ROGERS: Huge and getting worse.

And so here is the problem. In Britain, they're very close to being overwashed, meaning their resources can't keep up with the individuals that have both gone to Syria and fought and have come back. There will be a point where they will have to do a priority list, meaning people think they are a danger, they can't keep up with.

We're not that far behind. Certainly, the Canadians are not far behind and in Australia not far behind. And the Australian case is so concerning because these people wanted to go to Syria to fight. And they were told by the ISIL leadership folks, stay in Australia, spontaneous act of terror, kidnap people, cut their heads off and videotape it. That's what's changed. That's why people are so upset and nervous.

ROSE: What do you say to the CIA report that we read on the cover of the -- front page of "The New York Times" last week that they're unsuccessful generally when they come to the aid of these kind of groups?

ROGERS: Unsuccessful in...

ROSE: In terms of success of providing covert aid to groups that are fighting governments.

ROGERS: Well, again, we -- I think with a more overt NATO-based operation is a very different kind of an operation.

I will tell you that watching this problem develop over the last three years in multiple places in the world, it has been less than effective. We have not seen the kind of results that we would hope to have seen.

But we should learn from that experience. And one thing that we know, if you have those special capability soldiers downrange with them in this fight, those forces tend to fight better, they know that they can get medevaced off the battlefield, their intelligence is better, and their target sense are better.

ROSE: Chairman Rogers, thank you. ROGERS: Yes, thank you.