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Gen. Keane on Defeating ISIS: Obama Never Asked Military for a Plan to Get That Done

Penny Starr | November 21, 2016 | 11:38am EST
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(AP Photo)

In an interview with National Public Radio on Sunday, retired Army Gen. Jack Keane said that the U.S. military could defeat the Islamic State if the commander-in-chief asks for and implements its plan.

Host Rachel Martin was interviewing Keane about his decision not to accept President-elect Donald Trump’s offer to serve as Defense secretary, but the report included questions about Trump’s remarks on the campaign trail that he knows more than the generals when it comes to defeating ISIS.

“The military knows how to fight a war,” Keane said. “And I told [Trump] - if you're going to do what you suggest - said you were going to do and ask for a campaign plan from the Pentagon for how to defeat ISIS, believe me, you'll get a comprehensive campaign plan with many options in it that this president has never asked for.”

Keane said that, in fact, Obama routinely did not take the advice given to him by the military or, if taken, “reduced” those recommendations.

“In dealing with this question (about the generals) and that statement that you're referencing, that's an interesting one,” Keane said. “And I do have an opportunity to point out to him that the issue here had nothing to do with the generals.

“It had to do with the president's policy,” Keane said. “As a matter of fact, as I've said publicly, in terms of force levels that our generals have made, a few of the commanders - those in Afghanistan and those in Iraq - the president - President Obama never accepted a force-level recommendation from them one time.

“He always rejected it and either did not accept it at all or dramatically reduced it, as he did with Generals McChrystal and Petraeus when they decided to conduct - escalate the war in Afghanistan to put in place,” Keane said.

“So you're saying the executive branch, in the end, has a lot of control anyway,” Martin said.

“Yeah, exactly,” Keane said. “I mean, these were the president's policy decisions. The military executes policy decisions.”

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