Defense Secretary Ash Carter defended the military’s approach to fighting the Islamic State group, saying the military is looking for every possible way to attack and defeat the militants whose ideology is appealing to “losers with a keyboard” in the United States.
PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill asked him in an interview airing on Thursday’s broadcast how the military deals with an enemy that is radicalizing recruits around the world in places “boots on the ground” can’t approach.
Carter agreed that the fight is changing around the world. “Right here in the United States where we’ve had people, some of whom just losers with a keyboard who get excited by ISIL (Islamic State) propaganda and decide to take off against our fellow citizens.
“This is the first ever social media enemy. And so it’s new. Not something we can defeat, but we have to be ingenious, and that’s why I’m committed to thinking and working and adapting so that we change our techniques and our avenues of attack so they don’t know we’re taking them by surprise and we’re doing new things to defeat them. That’s why I say it’s a dynamic campaign.”
Carter testified at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday that more troops will be needed to help Iraqi and Kurdish forces conduct raids, gather intelligence and capture Islamic State fighters.
Critics, including Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, called it a “gradual approach” that won’t make a significant difference on the ground and was reactionary.
“We’re not reacting, we’re actually on the initiative,” Carter told Ifill. “We’re looking for every way we can to attack and destroy ISIL.
“As far as the White House is concerned, the president tells me the same thing I tell our military commanders, which is when you have another way of going at this, we’re going to do it,” Carter said.