White House Strategy Against ISIS Feasible?

Ret. Col. Steve Ganyard and former State Department official John Nagl respond to the White House's strategy to defeat ISIS.
3:42 | 09/14/14

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Transcript for White House Strategy Against ISIS Feasible?
Let's get instant analysis now from our experts. Colonel Steve ganyard is an ABC news contributor. He is a former Marine Corps fighter pilot and state department official who's helped explain so much to us over the years and lieutenant colonel John nagl was a top army strategist, also a commander on the ground in Iraq. He co-authored the military's counterinsurgency manual with general David petraeus, and let me start with you, John nagl. You heard what Denis Mcdonough said about the Iraqi forces. He said, they will -- the Iraqi government will support a unified capable multiethnic Iraqi force so they can take this force to Isis. Are they capable of doing that, those Iraqi forces? You helped train them. I did help train them, and they're not ready yet, and I'm afraid they're not going to be for awhile. If we're going to make this thing happen any time soon, we're going to need American special forces "A" teams on the ground in combat advising those guys, not just in training camps but on the ground. That's I believe the key weakness of this strategy right now. And, Steve ganyard, the president has said, said in his speech that this effort is more of a counterterrorism effort. He talked about Yemen. He talked about Somalia. Is it different than that? Well, I think we have a bit of a strategic mismatch here because Isis is not Al Qaeda, Isis is not a terrorist group. They present only a low-level threat to the homeland, and the department of homeland security says they are not a threat at this point so they may be barbarians and they are very much barbarians but they are not a terrorist group. They have 30,000 to 50,000 men under around, they have tanks, they have artillery. They're a much more conventional threat. In war the first principle of war is to understand the enemy you're facing and to make sure you understand the war you're about to undertake. I think there is a real strategic mismatch on both counts by calling this a counterterrorist strategy. There's been a lot of talk, colonel ganyard, about is this war, is this not war, is it counterterrorism. Does it matter what you call it? I think what we call things matter. It really does because the strategy that you would concoct for a counterterrorism strategy, which the white house did a very good job of outlining, is very different from what you would have with a more conventional force, which I think Isis is. I think if this strategy addressed Isis for what it really is rather than the white house, what it wants it to be, I think we'd have a much better chance of success in the near term. John nagl, people are already talking about mission creep, and we have, indeed, seen the mission change in Iraq, originally it was to protect Americans and infrastructure. Now they're going after a much broader group of targets and possibly into Syria. Do you see this as mission creep? It seems like every conflict starts this way, and then it gradually moves to something else. Well, the last Iraq war, of course, didn't start this way. This is going in the other direction. I do think that the goals the president has outlined are correct. We are at war, that it's going to take a much bigger effort than he has described to date to win this war in any kind of reasonable time to keep the middle east together and keep Americans safe, so I don't think it's mission creep. I think the president has understated what it's going to take to accomplish the objectives he correctly laid out destroying isil. And quickly, colonel ganyard, how long do you think this will take? I think we can do a lot of good work with air power in the next couple of months. I think we've stabilized the situation in Iraq, but at the end of the day, this is a sectarian civil war within Islam and only Islam can solve it. Thanks to you both.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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