January 20, 2019

The former top U.S. envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Brett McGurk told CBS' Face The Nation that Trump's rash decision made after a phone call with Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan puts all our troops at risk as well as the gains we have made against ISIS.

This is McGurk's first interview after resigning his position and he talked with Margaret Brennan. After discussing the Syria situation at length, in which he detailed how our pullout leaves a vacuum that cannot be filled by our coalition partners.

He then began to list the problems.

"Number one, we are leaving. The president has made that clear- we are leaving. And that means our force should be really with one mission: to get out and get out safely. We cannot add additional missions onto our force while they are trying to withdraw under pressure, because withdrawing under pressure from a combat zone is one of the most difficult military maneuvers we can ask our people to do."

Brennan followed up, "Accept that the president’s mind is made up. But one of the issues you have here is that the way the president is doing this puts forces at risk and puts the gains at risk. Am I hearing you correctly?"

"Announcing you're going to withdraw, and without a plan, and believe me, there's no plan for what's coming next. Right now we do not have a plan. It increases a vulnerability of our force." McGurk explained. "It increases the environment on the ground in Syria. This environment in northeast Syria has been fairly permissive and safe. Again, I've been there almost 20 times and we have been- been very careful with this. It is increasing the risk to our people on the ground in Syria and will open up space for ISIS."

He continued, "But what's most important is we cannot expect a partner such as Turkey to come in and take our place, or another coalition partner to take our place. That is not realistic. And if our forces are under order to withdraw, as at the same time they are trying to find some formula for another coalition partner to come in, that is not workable. That is not a viable plan."

"So when the Secretary of State says the U.S. military can strike ISIS or any threat in Syria from anywhere, you're saying that's not actually the case? Being on the ground matters." Brennan questioned.

McGurk responded, "Well having a presence on the ground is a critical force multiplier that has allowed us to defeat ISIS as a physical- physical space. To give us the intelligence to keep pressure on them and pulling out all of those forces will have very significant repercussions which we need to be ready for."

After Trump made his intentions to pull out of Syria known and Mike Pence claimed in a speech that ISIS had been defeated, four American soldiers were killed by an ISIS suicide bomber.

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