WASHINGTON- Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House Armed Services committee, said Wednesday he would support a congressional authorization for the use of military force against ISIS, a step requested by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address.
“If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL,” the president said in his address Tuesday night. “Take a vote.”
Thornberry, R-Texas, responded to Obama in a speech at the National Press Club where he stressed that congressional support would not mean another ground war. “I do not think it makes sense to send 100,000 ground troops into Iraq or Syria or anything like the force we had in Iraq before,” he said.
Thornberry said if a use of force resolution is approved, the U.S. could use special operations forces or launch a more vigorous air campaign. He said that the authorization for use of military force is not strongly supported in either party.
“Many Republicans are reluctant to authorize this use of force. So are Democrats,”he said.
But Thornberry said, “We should vote and pass an AUMF.”
Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a Democratic member of the Armed Services Committee, said she wants to see a more detailed plan of action from Obama for using force before deciding to authorize.
But Thornberry said the Armed Services committee customarily works together across party lines on difficult issues.
“The men and women on our committee, on both sides of the aisle, take that responsibility very seriously,” he said. “Most of the issues we grapple with we do on a bipartisan basis.”
Thornberry also called for stronger cybersecurity measures and upgraded nuclear deterrents in 2016. His committee spent the majority of its time last year on the issue of eroding American technology, he said.
“Cyber is the new domain of warfare,” he said. “We have to be able to fight and win in cyberspace.” Thornberry also said the U.S. needs to update its nuclear deterrents.
“Our own nuclear deterrent is the foundation for all our other defense efforts,” he said. “However, our warheads and defense systems are all dating out at the same time.”
He criticized the Iran Nuclear Deal, which the president touted as a national security accomplishment. Thornberry said the Obama administration pushed the deal through too quickly.