The US military’s plans to counter the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorist group in Libya “makes no sense,” a top US general says, adding that Washington needs to take a tougher stance in the country.
Marine Lieutenant General Thomas Waldhauser, President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the US Africa Command, made the comments before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.
“I am not aware of any overall grand strategy at this point,” the general said in response to a question by the committee's chairman, Senator John McCain, on whether Washington had a strategy for Libya.
Waldhauser said that Daesh was preparing to take over more land in Libya in case it was completely defeated in Iraq and Syria.
“That’s why instability inside Africa is to ISIL’s advantage,” he noted, adding that Daesh was shifting focus on the Libyan city of Sirte as a “kind of backup” if it fails elsewhere.
He then warned that despite a growing Daesh presence in the conflict-ridden country, the US military was not conducting any airstrikes in the country.
“There are targets that are being developed but there have not been flights flown,” Waldhauser told the lawmakers.
The general went on to say that such attacks would be “wise” even without confirmation from the White House and he would welcome to have the authority.
In reaction to Walhauser’s remarks, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told CNN on Tuesday that “we don't make a decision to carry out a military strike lightly.”
He also noted that Washington has considered airstrikes in the past and is “prepared to do so again in the future.”
Last month, Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that Washington may deploy troops and equipment to the troubled North African country “any day” now.
In March 2011, a coalition of US-backed Western countries, including the UK and France, launched missile and air strikes on Libya, helping the ouster of former leader Muammar al-Gaddafi following a national uprising.
But the ensuing power vacuum allowed various militant groups, including a Daesh affiliate, to gain power in the country and exploit its natural resources.
Daesh controls a tenth of Libya’s coastline and, according to CIA Director John Brennan, it has 5,000 to 8,000 militants in the country.