Rep. Mike Rogers: We need U.S. Special Forces soldiers in Iraq, Syria

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Michigan, said Sunday that the U.S. fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL) still lacks a coherent strategy, which will allow the conflict to drag out for decades.

In an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," Rogers said the U.S. is taking "really small pecks at a very big problem" and needs to put British and U.S. Special Forces on the ground with the local Iraqi, Kurdish and moderate Syrian forces for a more effective fight.

But he resisted the notion that putting special forces into the fight constitutes an escalation of the U.S. military role to include combat troops on the ground.

"I think when people think about boots on the ground, they're thinking big maneuver elements, divisions, brigades, battalions. No one's talking about that. Although I don't think we should eliminate it," Rogers said.

"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 capability, special capability soldiers and intelligence officials are needed if you're going to be more impactful," Rogers added. "If you put a 20-year plan together to beat ISIL, you'll have 40 years of trouble."

Not all lawmakers agree that that the U.S. military needs to be embedded with local troops. In a separate interview on "Face the Nation," Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, said, "I'm not for putting American troops on the ground."

"In the great state of West Virginia we have a little common sense. And we understand the definition of insanity: Continue to do the same thing and expect something different to happen," Manchin said, noting that he also opposes U.S. plans to arm and train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS on the ground.

"It should be an all-Muslim ground war. The Saudis have to engage. The Turks have to engage. The Kurds are the only ones that seem to want to fight and defend and die for what they believe in. And until we see the other regions, we're not going to change that," Manchin said. He does believe the U.S. should continue to help the ground forces with airstrikes.

Rogers also warned that the threat of lone wolves -- Western individuals carrying out attacks in their home countries -- is "huge and getting worse."

He said that British officials are almost at the point where they do not have enough resources to keep up with individuals who have gone to Syria to fight and returned home.

"We're not that far behind. Certainly the Canadians are not far behind, and Australia not far behind. In the Australian case (what) is so concerning (is) that these people wanted to go to Syria to fight, and they were told by the [ISIS] 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 about," Rogers said.

  • Rebecca Kaplan

    Rebecca Kaplan is a political reporter for