Ernst wants broader approach to defeating ISIS

Senator says jihadist group spreading to South America, Southeast Asia

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst speaks to attendees at the Johnson County Republicans annual BBQ fundraiser at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin on Saturday, October 12, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst speaks to attendees at the Johnson County Republicans annual BBQ fundraiser at Clear Creek Amana High School in Tiffin on Saturday, October 12, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Combating ISIS is a bit like playing whack-a-mole, according to Sen. Joni Ernst.

That’s why the Iowa Republican is encouraging military and political leaders to broaden the focus of their efforts to defeat the jihadist military group she said is spreading to South America and Southeast Asia.

“We do have some areas where we see gains,” Ernst said during her weekly conference call with reporters, “but at the same time we see gains, we see ISIS will shift to a new region.

“As we slap them down in one region they’re just popping up in another,” she said after questioning Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph Dunford during a Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.

“They are very concerned with what they see out there,” she said, including her concern that ISIS planners and operators have found safe haven in Philippines.

Ernst wants to “make sure this is not a forgotten area as we focus so heavily on the Middle East.

“We want to make sure that we’re not taking our eyes off Southeast Asia because that’s where they are starting to recruit now,” she said. A recent recruiting video encouraged ISIS followers to go to that region if they are unable to get to the Middle East.

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Referring to the “”horrible acts of terror” over the weekend, Ernst expressed thanks for military and law enforcement personnel, but also said it’s time for “a global and comprehensive approach to defeating ISIS.”

Steps should include engaging allies like the Kurds, “correctly utilized special operations forces,” debating the use of force in Syria through a new AUMF and “ending sequestration so military has the tools necessary to defeat ISIS.”

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