Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) (AP)
(CNSNews.com) – The House Armed Services Committee noted Tuesday that the Obama administration missed their February 15 deadline to deliver a strategy to counter violent extremist groups in the Middle East, such as ISIS and al Qaeda, as required by the National Defense Authorization Act.
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, harshly criticized President Obama’s failure to meet the deadline.
“I fear the President’s failure to deliver this report says far more about the state of his strategy to defeat terrorists than any empty reassurance he may offer from the podium,” Thornberry said in a statement.
"Unsurprisingly, the Administration cannot articulate a strategy for countering violent extremists in the Middle East. Time and again, the President has told us his strategy to defeat extremist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda is well underway,” Thornberry said, “yet, months after the legal requirement was established, his Administration cannot deliver that strategy to Congress.”
Thornberry also outlined the consequences of the administration’s failure, calling it “a lost opportunity” for Congress and the administration to come together for a common approach to respond to the threat.
“The Committee is working now to shape the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act and the Pentagon has already begun requesting authorities our troops need to defeat this enemy. Without a strategy, this amounts to leaving our troops in the wilderness with a compass, but no map,” he wrote.
“Failing to comply with the report deadline represents more than a failure of strategic vision for the White House,” Thornberry emphasized. “It is a lost opportunity for the Administration and Congress to work together on a common approach to face this threat.”
Section 1222 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY16, signed by President Obama in November, “requires the Secretaries of State and Defense to deliver a strategy for the Middle East and countering violent extremism no later than February 15, 2016” according to Thornberry’s statement.
President Barack Obama. (AP)
It also requires the Administration to “lay out a number of elements needed to defeat terrorist groups like ISIS and al Qaeda, including a description of the role the U.S. military will play in such a strategy, a description of the coalition needed to carry out the strategy, and an assessment of efforts to disrupt foreign fighters traveling to Syria and Iraq.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) sent the White House a reminder of the deadline on February 10, citing a recent testimony by Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, that ISIS “will probably attempt to conduct additional attacks in Europe, and attempt to direct attacks on the U.S. homeland in 2016.”
"We are aware of the report and are actively working with multiple interagency offices to complete this legal requirement per the NDAA and look forward to submitting the completed report to Congress in the near-term," Army Lt. Col. Joe Sowers, a Department of Defense spokesman, told The Hill on Friday.