tv The Kelly File FOX News September 22, 2014 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
we hope you're jocund. thanks for watching. ms. megyn is up next. please remember, the spin stops here. we're definitely looking out for you. breaking tonight, 12 days after president obama announced the launch of a major new offensive against a terror army known as isis and the big question tonight is when will the bombing begin in syria. good evening and welcome to "the kelly file" everyone. i'm megyn kelly. for the past six weeks the united states has been launching air strikes on isis targets in iraq while the u.s. military has been on standby waiting for the order from the president to strike. >> centcom's plan against isil safe havens in syria including its command and control, logistics capabilities and
infrastructure. general dempsey and i have both approved and spent considerable time reviewing and adapting the centcom plan. >> then we heard broadcast reports earlier tonight that that order could come at any time. joining me now, general jack keane who is chairman of the institute for the study of war, former vice chief of staff of the army and fox news military analyst and with us now by phone. general, let me ask you whether the timing would make sense. because you have been -- you have been critical of the president for not acting on the day he was announcing that he was going to bomb syria. you questioned on this program last week why we wouldn't be doing it as he was announcing it. >> well, i'm delighted we're finally going to get started to take place in the next day or so. look, we know this is an imperative. the fact of the matter is the support infrastructure for isis, the vast majority of everything
that they have is in syria. so what are we talking about? staging bases for troops and equipment. we're talking about training areas for all these fighters that have been flown in to syria that all of us have been reporting on. their command and control is there. and then also their very large road network, which is a logistic network which they use to pass equipment back and forth from iraq and syria. and the fact of the matter is this is all exposed. now, listen, we know for a fact that they've been trying to do everything they can to protect and conceal some of this. at the end of the day they're not going to be able to protect and conceal all of it. so the sooner we get started, the better. and i applaud the fact we're eventually going to get this underway in the not too distant future, maybe hours or a day or two. >> how could they possibly still be exposed? one thinks of what we saw in palestine with the palestinians so effectively hiding so much of
their command and control in the midst of civilian strongholds. is it not going to be the case in syria? >> well, you have staging bases for troops and we have a sense of where that is. troops have to train. we likely know where they stay. equipment storage areas, they have a lot of trucks, tanks. they have a lot of obviously kind of suv type vehicles that they're using in those staging bases. they can hide some of it, but they just can't hide all of it. and the other thing is, megyn, look, no one has this kind of technology although it is emerging with the west and chinese. we can put a bomb on a target with a 98% chance of hitting that target within 30 meters of the designated point. that is absolutely phenomenal
technology. and that's how we can hit a target and not do damage to other things that are in the vicinity. we can make mistakes with that, as we've done in the past. but those are unintentional mistakes. and they're very slight compared to the number of air strikes that we deliver. so we've been shooting 170-something air strikes into iraq since the president authorized that to be done. and that's certainly had some impact. once we start this, i think we're going to have significantly greater impact on isis. as i told you once before, megyn, i believe that al baghda baghdadi's planned assumption was that the united states would not conduct air strikes into syria given the fact we did not do it over the chemical red line. >> uh-huh. >> and he saw us back away. and i think he put a lot of his eggs in one basket here so to speak in syria. and that assumption is false and
the president deserves credit for finally getting after this. >> general, what kind of response could we likely expect? because we've heard so many reports about isis getting its hands on our military technology that we gave to the iraqi army. so, you know, if we begin a bombing campaign, whether it's within hours, within the evening or within a day, what kind of response are we likely to get from isis now on the ground with respect to our own equipment? >> well, the fact of the matter is when they took various towns and cities and the iraqis collapsed, obviously they took that equipment. but they're challenged as well, megyn. some of this equipment, like a tank, is a pretty sophisticated piece of technology. it's got multiple computers on it. it's got very advanced communications systems on it.
this takes true specialized technicians to take care of this equipment. and could they hire that? yes, they could. do they have any of that available to them now? doubtful. so i don't think the impact of some of the equipment that they've taken other than vehicles which everyone knows is going to be felt that much. the humvees that they took from the iraqis, that will provide them with significant protection. and some of those have machine guns on them certainly. >> go ahead, finish your point. >> no, go ahead. >> i was going to ask whether you would anticipate whether we've heard -- obviously there's been a lot of debate about whether it will just be air strikes and for now we are told that's what the president has settled on. is that going to be a navy operation? an air force operation? what would you assume? >> oh, i think that will be a little bit of all the above. we tremendous capability, megyn.
we can fly b-2 bombers from the united states to hit a target in the middle east. and we have done that routinely. they are stealth bombers. and they penetrate air defense systems, the systems don't know were there and they use precision and fly them from europe as well. just think about that. we have flown b-2 bombers in attack missions in the war in iraq and afghanistan and we returned those to home station after completing the mission. obviously they rotate crews in order to do something like that. but the fact of the matter is we have an enormous capability, there are bases in the region that i would imagine that we have flown some priors in to. and as you know we've been report k for weeks, we have an aircraft carrier in the region as well. so this is air force and nav nao
be sure. and significant capability. >> i understand. >> i just hope, megyn, my concern here is that we truly go all out. that we do not limit the air power capability that the united states has. >> uh-huh. >> that we go after these targets with the full measure of that capability. >> general, thank you. >> you're welcome. >> we're going to stand the general by in the event of breaking news. and we will get back to him as the news warrants. i want to bring in buck sexton, former cia officer in iraq and national security editor for theblaze.com. buck, the intelligence that will have to go into mapping out what the areas are and where we believe command and control is is significant. >> yes. they've been trying to do this now for at least over a month based upon what have been reported. they've been running surveillance flights figuring out what they would hit if decide ds to fly air strikes into syria. one consideration here is this is going to effect a reality on the ground in syria in ways we can't necessarily anticipate.
this will strengthen assad's hand for example. whether we want it to or not, the fact of the matter is the isis groups and others around it are fighting against assad sochlt if we hit them, we hit them hard as we should, it's going to put assad in a stronger position. he may not want to fwo to the bargaining table for example because isis is getting pounded from the sky on both fronts. it's a two front war as we know. isis seizing -- >> the point is there's no one to root for. bombing our enemy also emboldens another enemy. but clearly there's been a calculated decision that this is worth it. even strengthening assad's hand, bashar al assad who has been torturing families, murdering children, lining them up -- we've been reporting on this for two years, lining up families and murdering the parents in front of the children and vicerer sa, for kicks. that's how he operates. that's who we're going to ultimately help because we think he's the lesser of two evils. what kind of world is that? >> as you heard from former secretary of defense panetta, we're too late on the issue of trying to help the non-extremist
op inside of syria. they're the weakest of the three major factions. you have assad, isis and what we call moderates, depends on how you want to define that. what you see, megyn, if we get involved at this late juncture, there are going to be unanticipated consequences. we're going to be in a situation where we hit things we don't mean to hit and messier than this administration ever thought they would. they've delayed and delay and had now have to face up to the reality of threat we face. >> buck, thank you. stand you by as well. we are watching the wires. we are in contact with the pentagon. and we are getting reporting from overseas. if anything happens, we will have the moment -- the news the moment it breaks. also tonight, we have heard a shocking new admission today from the administration about dozens of u.s. citizens who went to fight for terrorists in iraq and are now back in the united states. we will investigate that just ahead. also up next, we will look at new evidence that we may have missed our best chance to beat back this terror group long before we got to this point tonight. don't go away.
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the commander in chief and some of our top military officials disagreeing. the latest to speak out is former top general who served under president obama until 2010. former marine come daunt james conway saying, "i don't think the president's plan has a snowball's chance in hell of succeeding." he's just the latest to raise questions about the strategy here. >> so there will be boots on the ground if there's to be any hope of success in the strategy. >> i just don't see how you're going to recruit coalition partners willing to put boots on the ground if the americans who claim to be leading this don't have boots on the ground. >> i think that this strategy has many of the right elements to it. i don't think it goes far enough. i still would not take any element of america's power off the table. >> the other thing that's going to happen, megyn, isis will force our hand. i'm absolutely convinced of it. we will put guard air controllers and advisors down
there because we will struggle. we will put direct action teams to go kill isis because the weak hand in iraq is going to struggle. and we will have eventually combat ground brigades to deal with the potential failure. because if we don't, we're going to ásdlose. >> pete hegs het, war veteran and ceo of concerned veterans for america. that is chilling to hear from bob gates to general jack keane, former vice chief of staff for the army say if we don't do what the president has already ruled out we're going to lose. >> it is a revolt of the generals. i mean, as a captain i'm happy to see my highest leaders both in and outside of government telling it like it is. >> have you ever seen this before? >> never seen anything like this. these are folks inside the pentagon talking to their former colleagues who are now outside the pentagon and able to speak out more freely in the media trying to get their word out saying if you want an analysis of what it takes to destroy isis, it has to factor in
american boots on the ground or at least the threat thereof in order to be successful. >> and the president said last weekend he was very clear he said not only are we not putting boots on the ground, we will not -- we will not -- there will not be a combat mission. period. he does sound even though the white house earlier tried to couch it, like he is ruling it out on a go forward basis as well. >> which calls into question every other single portion of the mission. one of the generals mentioned there how do you recruit other allies when you yourself are not willing to lead? >> and you happen to be america. >> yes. >> who always leads. >> the only country. i think the president needs to pick up the phone and call george h.w. bush and figure out what it takes to gather a coalition. it was its core and brought in other countries. this idea we're going to get saudi arabia or turkey or egypt to commit ground troops without america leading is a fantasy. >> saying saudi arabia's training troops now. >> he also called it kurdistan
force. no, it's the peshmerga, they've been underfunded for a decade. it's not clear that the free syrian army is capable of anything in the near term. >> the worst thing that could happen to the president politically because many have suggested that's how he's running these decisions, looking at polling and making decisions, would be to send a bunch of american troops over there, risk their lives and then lose. get iív in some lengthy conflict in which it became clear we were losing. and then as jack keane says he's left with no choice. >> you go in hard, you go in fast, you go in to win. problem is we don't have general conway -- combat conway is what they called him. two years he spent in iraq. he knows how to fight wars. general valley jarrett is making the calls. think about it. the pentagon knows that. >> that is disturbing to many people. >> it is. >> with all due respect to ms. jarrett, she's not the one who should be making these calls.
how does it come about that the president is on this different a page from his p6jgenerals, pete? with the generals behind the scenes be urging the president to listen to them? or do they not just question the chain of command? >> they're always presenting a menu of plans to the president. high risk, low risk, opting for the no boots on the ground option. i know for a fact that some of those options have contained ground troops. he's made that decision that we're not going to go there. i think generals are going to have a pretty critical -- it's one thing to speak out or make a suggestion at a hearing. what about putting men and women in harm's way with a strategy you know can't work? at what point do you get someone slapping their four stars on the table and say i won't do it anymore. >> that's how you're supposed to do it, right? if you object you're not supposed to come out and speak publicly say i refuse to send my troops because i think we're going to fail, you're supposed to resign. >> maybe they'll wake up tomorrow and decide they're going to fight the war properly based on the threat on the
ground. but to see a statement like that would be powerful. right now i'm grateful these men, these leaders, combat leaders are at least telling it like it is. they're making an analytical point. you can't win without boots. a whole other question whether we ought to. >> they're getting a message out in a way i've never seen before. good to see you. >> thanks, megyn. while military officials are arguing you have to fight the battle to win, our next guest says we shouldn't be fighting this at all. see why his argument is getting some new attention. plus, is the far left radical credited with influencing a young barack obama among others? see why some previously secret notes are suddenly making big news again tonight about the top democrat.
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a new crisis is emerging tonight in the battle against isis as we get reports that more than 100,000 syrians literally had to run for their lives in recent days crossing into turkey to try to escape islamic terrorists. they have been met with tear gas from turkish forces at the border as turkey says it is trying to control the already huge crowds there. the surge is mostly made up of women, children and the elderly, like the woman you see here. can you imagine slumped over in a wheelchair. and listen to the horror described by senator feinstein just yesterday. >> i have a picture of what i estimate to be a 6-year-old girl in a gingham party dress, white tights, red band around her wrist, mary janes, she's lying on the ground and her head is gone. >> but is the end conclusion here that america should become more deeply involved in this? joining me now alan combs, host
of the alan combs show on fox news radio. >> is it something we should not be involved with? we are going -- we're going into syria obviously. who do you align with? you have al nusra, the free syrian army. >> that's the one we chose. >> that's the one we chose. are we going to be confined to just helping them with all those other forces there? and what always happens is our weapons wind up in the wrong hands. just pointed out for those refugees being chased by isis into turkey. and u.s. arms, which went to iraq originally, are now winding up in the hands of isis. this will happen again. >> nancy pelosi was asked about that not long ago because she was against arming them and then she said i'm in favor and so are a lot of us because, well, the threat of isis is just so bad, we basically had to choose our poison and we chose trying to arm the free syrian army guys. >> the president just a couple of months ago said we can't go in, we can't help the
opposition, they're just a bunch of teachers and pharmacists and doctors. >> over the objection we've now learned of leon panetta, hillary clinton, of petraeus, everybody who has ever advised him. we don't know they were wrong at the time because there was a time in syria where the factions were a little more clearer than they are today, would you agree? >> yes, perhaps. but there were still all those factions. we were still going to have u.s. weapons wind up in the wrong hands. >> here's the question i have for you. what happens if we don't? it seems sort of like al qaeda, bent on killing americans. prior to george bush going into the white house they wanted to kill us, they hate our ideology, they hate what we did under bush the elder, there's a long list of reasons why they hate us. and there seems to be a long list why isis hates us. and if we don't go in, they're still going to hate us and want to kill us even if we start bombing. >> they're going to hate us more if we go in. >> what more could there be? what's worse than beheading us? >> we compared this argument
since vietnam. if we don't fight them over there, we're going to fight them over here. that's not true. the homeland is not in jeopardy. jeh johnson says we're not in jeopardy. >> but do we let them grow? you hear hagel talking about them and it's terrifying. the defense secretary is terrifying people about them. >> and pundits on television are terrifying people. >> this is the defense secretary. >> they are trying to terrify us to promote a war we should not be fighting. this is war promotion. this is war hawkism. >> why aren't the same voices who were so animated over, you know, iraq -- this is a fox news alert. we have breaking news. i beg the audience's pardon because that last segment you were watching was on tape, but i am here and we are getting breaking news live right now. we have reports that military operations in syria have begun. our own jennifer griffin is live at the pentagon and has the
breaking news. jennifer. >> reporter: megyn, we can confirm with u.s. officials that the first tomahawks have been fired. the u.s. air strikes along with coalition air strikes along with five arab countries have begun. bombs have started falling on syria. this was an order given by the president. we're told within the last hour the planes began flying off of destroyers that are based in the persian gulf as well as the r lee burk destroyer based in the red sea. the tomahawks were the first to be fired from those warships, but we are also told planes have taken off from the u.s.s. bush and from other carriers from the u.s.s. bush, which is the carrier in the region. we can confirm that the first explosions have been heard in northern syria where isis is
based. we expect there could be upwards of 20 to 25 targets struck tonight. sources tell us this is an operation that is being flown along with several arab countries. we can confirm that five arab countries are involved including saudi arabia, united arab emirates, bahrain and jordan. there are warplanes from at least four arab countries that are flying on these missions tonight over syria, megyn. >> jennifer, give us some details on the planes and some of the military operations that you just ticked off. the tomahawk, you mentioned the warships, the destroyer in the red sea. how many are we looking at? >> well, right now we're looking at two warships being involved in terms of the tomahawk segment of the mission. the r. lee burk is a destroyer based in the red sea. we also know that the philippine sea, which is a cruiser based out with the u.s.s. bush which is in the persian gulf, northern
arabian sea. tom ahawks are being fired from two different directions. we also know that the u.s.s. bush aircraft carrier group, there are planes being launched off that in the past. what we've seen in iraq we've got f-18s flying as well as f-16 fighter jets. i would expect that both of those warplanes are involved as well as of course unmanned drones. they will be using unmanned drones to target. they have been flying that unmanned surveillance, the isr over syria for the last few weeks while they've been coming up with a target list over syria. remember, megyn, one of the reasons that this mission took a few weeks to come together was not only the importance to the president and to the administration of building an arab coalition, but also the fact that up until a few weeks ago the president had not authorized any surveillance drones, unmanned drones, to fly
over syria. so they had to build these targets. they had to build the intelligence for these targets in recent weeks. but we are told basically about an hour ago the first warplanes began flying and the first tomahawks were fired, megyn. >> jennifer, can you talk about, if you can, the decision to make this publicly available? because obviously this is not something that they would generally do until it is public information. so the operation is well under way at this hour? >> it is under way, but again, we expect it to go on for several hours. this is not a short mission we're told. the reality is, megyn, we live in an era in which twitter and social postings from the ground in syria and we saw this in libya, we've seen this in iraq, it is very difficult for the pentagon and centcom to keep a
lid on this situation once warplanes had begun flying. we had indications earlier in the day this was going to happen. we decided to wait until we had the first reports from the ground that explosions had begun so as not to tip off anyone on the ground. keeping operational security is obviously of the utmost importance to people here in the pentagon and we have respected that. but again, just moments ago we can confirm from sources on the ground inside syria that those first bombs have landed. and of course u.s. officials have also confirmed that in fact the mission did begin within the last hour. >> and when you say five arab countries are participating, any details on who? >> this is an absolutely crucial point, megyn. we can confirm that saudi arabia, the united arab emirates is in the lead with fighter planes as well as jordan, bahrain and we are told qatar is taking part in this operation. very significant that there are
arab fighter pilots tonight joining american pilots as they bomb these sites in syria. that was a key part -- key caveat for the administration for taking on this attempt to go after the headquarters of isis in syria. they did not want this to be a u.s.-led mission. it's quite notable, however, megyn, that the british and french are not flying with the americans tonight over syria. there are no european partners right now flying with the americans. it is simply arab partners. and that is unique. i have not covered a situation in the past where in recent memory in which we had such a large arab coalition participating in this air campaign. >> that is stunning. no european allies. only these five arab countries and the united states. jennifer, standby. obviously we're going to need to come back to you. we'll let you work your sources. i want to bring the audience this news from the white house tonight as fox news has confirmed that air strikes have
begun in syria. the united states and five arab countries as jennifer just outlined, saudi arabia, the uae described as in the lead, jordan, bahrain and qatar all offering fighter pilots to assist in this mission bombing isis targets inside syria. want to tell you what we are hearing from our white house reporter, ed henry, is that we are being told president obama will not speak tonight. we should not expect to hear from the president tonight. that he will instead let the pentagon take the lead on kinetic action as we are seeing it. want to bring in shepard smith joining us from the studio next door. >> good evening. the bombings began we believe about 20 minutes ago. want to talk about some of the areas the united states is considering bombing and the reasons for that bombing. this is aleppo, the city we've talked about all throughout that isis has come in and in large parts taken over. you go just to the north and east, this is al bob. this is a training camp where
most -- before 2013 this was part of the free syrian army's spot. and they were trying to fight this government in syria as the civil war raged. well, isis came in and took this over. and beginning in the last six months isis has been training according to a world health report and the united states government 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys to join in this fight. they have a training camp there. there's a lot of weapons that are stored there. and it was widely believed this would be one of the spots we would be targeting. according to a recent u.n. report. u.s. air strikes also likely a target -- we can back out. chris, can you zoom this map -- ride this map out a little bit. here we are aleppo again, come all the way to the border with iraq. isis has taken down the entire border there in a large berm. and the thinking was since isis hasarea that now
that would be another area to strike because the fear was that isis is moving into jordan. many tens, even hundreds of thousands of refugees, the king of jordan says up to 1.2 million are already there from syria and the fear this refugee crisis was going to explode. put the border back together and get the terrorists out of that area. a lot of targets, as jennifer mentioned, 20 to 25 expected tonight and overnight. the sun should rise there in about two and a half hours or so. and by then some 20 to 25 targets expected to be hit, meg megyn. >> indeed. now it's coming through all the wires that the united states of course and its partners have begun air strikes in syria. and that is all the detail we have in terms of those participants, shepherd, those five arab countries. and as jennifer points out no europeans. not the brits who had one of their own beheaded as the united states did. we lost two journalists to the barbarism of isis. those acts definitely had a role
in the president's announcement that we would begin air strikes in syria. for a while it was we're not sure what the strategy is. and the american public got very much behind doing something after seeing their fellow countrymen lose their heads to these barbarians who threatened it would be so. >> megyn, new from the pentagon in the last 30 seconds, quoting, the department of defense released the following statement from the pentagon press secretary, the rear admiral john kirby, he said and i quote, i can confirm that the u.s. military and partners are taking military actions against isil targets in syria using a mix of fighter, bomber and tomahawk land attacks. it goes onto say given operations are ongoing we're not allowed to provide additional detail. the conduction of the strikes under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. we will provide more details later as operationally appropriate. one of the things they were concerned from the beginning about was in syria there are
anti-aircraft weapons. it's not at all like we were fighting in the other two regions the president mentioned. here there are anti-aircraft weapons. so one would guess from our coverage of previous wars, in fact one would suppose those would be among the first targets. what does this do as i heard your guest a while ago say for bashar al assad? there's certainly the chance it props him up. >> that's the decision we've made. these are the bargains we've had to strike. shepherd, thank you. i want to bring in now lieutenant colonel oliver north. colonel, let me run through what we're hearing from the pentagon. the united states and coalition military strikes on isis targets in syria have begun. the pentagon confirming that. we expect not to hear from the president tonight, perhaps tomorrow. we are told that the hours-long mission that will begin tonight that has begun tonight includes the u.s. air force and naval strikes. already there have been tomahawk missiles fired from the
destroyer u.s.s.r. lee burk. >> those are cruise missiles being fired from a guided missile cruiser out in the mediterranean more likely -- most likely. it is one of the things that gives us an extraordinary advantage because they are so accurate. they're also vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles, however. we know that the russians have provided at least around their naval base at syria perhaps even the sa-300s which are capable of bringing them down. the most important thing i've heard this evening from all of this in the last hour and a half is that the coalition what it does include and what it doesn't include, megyn, and that is the fact that qatar is in this coalition. and they're part of the air strike taking place right now. qatar has been over the course of the last three years very supportive of radical islamic
movement and the like. today, there was a strike by hezbollah against al nusra in syria flown by an unmanned aerial vehicle out of lebanon. we've also seen today 130,000-plus refugees, mostly kurdish, seeking refuge in turkey. so i find qatar being part of this is very important because qatar has supported al nusra, they've supported others, they're affiliated with isis. and they've certainly been supporting hamas for some period of time. the fact that they're this this coalition is a very positive sign. what's not positive is the fact that of all the air forces in the region that could be effective is turkey. and turkey does not appear at this point to be part of this. >> what do you make of the fact that these five nations participating in this are sunnis? >> well, no, we have to recognize that largely secular
sunnis are not part of what isis is. isis has been murdering secular sunnis all over anbar province. these are those who joined us back in 2006 and '07 in iraq, they were the ones who formed the awakening. >> just so our viewers know, isis, they are the extreme sunnis. >> they are. in fact, grew out of the old aqi as we called it back in those days, al qaeda in iraq. >> so viewers understand, this is one of the reasons iran has been so gung ho about fighting isis is because they're shia. so you've got these factions. but what we're seeing is five muslim countries joining with the united states -- five arab countries joining with the united states and these are sunnis who will be fighting other sunnis. >> very, very significant. and the fact -- the downside is we don't see any turks -- the turks are not arabs. they're turks. they're not in this fight. they have the best air force in
the region. they have the most capability. and quite frankly they and jordan are most affected by the refugees being driven out of syria, perhaps as many as 2 million plus have been -- have taken refuge in those two countries. so the fact the turks have stayed out of it may have a lot to do with the fact there's a number of turkish hostages, perhaps the largest number being held by isis. and the fact the turks are still trying to figure out are we serious or not. >> what do you make of the fact that they are announcing, the pentagon is telling us, that the u.s. is flying bombers, fighters and drones expected to hit around 20 targets inside of syria including command and control centers, training camps and weapon depots. >> as you know on your show and all over fox news i've been advocating this now for some weeks and months in fact. the reality of it is every president has done this kind of thing as the action begins. we can remember the shock and awe of going all the way back to
1991. ronald reagan did the same thing when we attacked libya, when we went to grenada. white houses have to do that particularly today where you've got this social media as several of your guests have said tonight, social media is up instantly. that's how we learned the strikes began was eventually confirmed by the pentagon, centcom and by the white house. >> they have no choice. >> no, they don't. not anymore. >> standby because we've got a lot more to cover. i just want to tell our viewers, so we had jennifer griffin on earlier reporting as you heard it's the united states plus these five arab countries. the uae is in the lead among the muslim countries. the united states is in the lead in the overall coalition, as you might imagine. joining me now bret baier, anchor of special report live in the d.c. bureau. >> remember the president went to central command in tampa. we're told then he was presented
a specific battle plan, that is essentially the blueprint for what we're seeing tonight. you mentioned the key part is the coalition and the five arab nations, uae, saudi arabia, jordan, qatar and bahrain, that is a big deal. that will be touted by this white house. because as you know they've been trying to put an arab face on this coalition for some time. there's still questions about boots on the ground and all of that. but this is a mission that is being flown with fighter jets from those countries. expect the president to make a bigñrkk statement about that tomorrow and likely meet with those countries in new york as he heads to the united nations. these strikes as you talked about with colonel north are very specific. they've been planned out with intelligence that they've been gathering over the past few weeks. and we are seeing a navy operation with tomahawk misls from the rl burk in the red sea
as well as the destroyer. and then you're seeing a u.s. mission that has all kinds of different elements to it. bombers, drones, and obviously f-18s from the u.s.s. george h.w. bush, the aircraft carrier. this is a full-scale bombing run. and while it says 20 targets, it will be interesting to see how many bombs are actually dropped. >> bret, you covered the white house for fox news in addition to the pentagon for many years. this action tonight would not have happened if president obama hadn't specifically given the order. and that would have we expect happen tonight. we had heard earlier today it might be coming. >> yeah, exactly. he would have given the order. he might have given the order actually before tonight. and he then they had the plans in place to get all of the is dotted and ts crossed as the president has said on other issues. and this was a blueprint that was presented to him, we're
told, at central command down in tampa. now, the specific targets and exactly when it would happen, remember, the command and control here is a key element. who is overseeing all of these different elements of this coalition? it is a u.s.-run operation. but all of these countries are submitting to the command and control of the u.s. of these strikes. >> indeed. bret, standby. toipt go to jennifer griffin live at the pentagon with an update to our story. >> hi, megyn. one thing that's important to remember is earlier this evening there was a conference call held by the white house by a senior administration official who did tell reporters that in fact they had seen signs that some of the 100 or so american jihadists who had gone to syria for training with isis that some of those had come back to the united states. that's the first time we had
heard that reported and that confirmed by the white house. and again, the timing of this is very interesting because there will be legal questions as to why the u.s. and these allies are striking syria. this is a sovereign country. they were not invited in to strike against isis targets by bashar assad. they're not working with the government of bashar assad. so there will be legal questions about what the legal basis for these air strikes are. so what you saw happen earlier today is the u.s. officials were laying the groundwork for a justification for these strikes by suggesting that those 100-plus americans trained by isis were now being tracked by the fbi back here in the united states. that's going to be significant in the days to come, particularly with president obama going up to the u.n. tomorrow. he'll be meeting with the u.n. security council. in fact, on wednesday he will be heading a u.n. security council meeting.
it's only the second time ever that a u.s. president has led a u.n. security council meeting. and in that meeting they will be coming up with a resolution to deal with these dozens of countries that have foreign fighters that have been flooding into syria and iraq. they're going to come up with a resolution to try and stop those fighters to put into place ways in which to stop those fighters. and this is all part of the -- what the white house plans to do over the coming days in terms of building support for this allied set of air strikes over syria. >> jennifer, standby. this comment came in earlier from rear admiral john kirby who is the pentagon press secretary. it reads in part as follows, the decision to conduct these strikes was made earlier today by the u.s. central command commander, that's the group that oversees the region. under authorization granted him by the commander in chief. we will provide more details later as operationally appropriate. still confirm thag this decision to launch the strikes was made today by u.s. centcom pursuant
to authorization granted by the president. i want to bring in congressman peter king who's a member of the house homeland security committee and chairman of the subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence. so congressman, you're reaction now. because the president came under some criticism for waiting too long to launch the air strikes that he said he was going to launch. the white house said we're building a coalition. tonight we're getting our first look at what that coalition -- how it looks. five muslim countries, sunnis who will be fighting other sunnis, no european allies. your thoughts. >> i think it's a major step by the president. i think it's important for all americans to support the president. i and others have been calling for this nearly for a number of weeks now if not months. but the bottom line it is being done. if there are -- and obviously there are these arab nations involved, sunni arab nations, this is a very, very positive step. i think it's really important
for all of us to come together. whatever happened in the past that's behind us. what's important now is americans we go forward, support the president and urge him to continue this to make sure these attacks continue and go on until isis has been devastated. >> explain to the audience why it is important that we have these five muslim -- these five arab country participating in this coalition with us. because one gets the impression that isis doesn't much care who we're with or not with, they want to kill us all. is that not true? even if it is true, does it matter with respect to the rest of the world? >> yes, it matters to the rest of the arab world. again, it's not 100% guarantee, but it makes our case better among other sunnis, among other arabs, isis can't say this is an attack by the infidels, this is an attack by the west. by having other arab nations
involved certainly makes our position better. militarily they're going to help, but the main benefit is going to come from the diplomatic end, the political end from the fact this is not a religious war. they will still claim it is, but it weakens the isis argument. it strengthens the u.s. and puts us in a better position diplomatically. i would have supported the attacks whether or not we had the coalition support. but the fact we have it is definitely a plus. >> a year ago the president spoke at the u.n. and he was proud to announce that we had withdrawn all of our troops from iraq. and here we are re-entering the region in a very robust way, bombing syria, the thing that we did not do when they used chemical weapons against their own people. re-engaging in the middle east in a war that many fear could become a generational conflict, perhaps it already is. your thoughts on the big picture of what this means for the
united states of america. >> i think it's important for the united states to realize that the president apparently now realizes we just can't declare an end to wars in the middle east. the fact is islamic terrorism is out to destroy us. they're going to fight us every way they can. and the war is only going to end when they are defeated. and this may well go on for a number of years. in in fact in many ways it's been going on for many years. it's an enemy we have to stay after because as soon as we let our guard down they will come after us. the president i believe made a mistake, a big mistake in pulling out of iraq in the way he did. same thing has happened in afghanistan. and wait a year to go by before we actually started to carry out measures in syria. the bottom line is though that's really in the past. we can use that as a lesson for the future. right now we have to stand with the president and certainly behind our military. this will be a well-coordinated series of attacks. we cannot just do them for show
value. we have to show we're serious about it. there's another way to win support in the region by showing we're in the keeps. >> congressman pete king, thank you, sir. back to retired four-star general and former army vice chief of staff. he joined us at the top of the broadcast knowing much more than he could say. general, thank you for rejoining us tonight. so your thoughts as we learn more of the details of this mission and in particular the coalition that's fighting it. >> well, i think we truly have to applaud the president and secretary kerry and general allen for being able to put this together. now we've got five sunni countries involved. listen, megyn, what makes this so significant and it's lost on people because they don't recognize that all of these arab muslim countries have radical islamic insurgencies inside their country that are trying to disrupt what they're doing and eventually take over their country. so the fact of the matter that they understand the danger of
isis. they have made a huge statement here tonight. because they truly recognize this threat. and despite the problems they've had with the president in the past, they have committed to join with us to go after and this is a significant accomplishment in the coalition coming together to truly strike isis. >> and so your thoughts as someone who believed that the president should have gone in earlier perhaps on the night he was announcing the air strikes. does that change your mind? >> no, i don't. i believe one of the things that really truly help us is surprise. i would have liked that kind of tactical surprise. nonetheless i understand some of the challenges here. we waited too long to get a targetable information. we were taking photos and needed to get some other targetable information in there. that was the president's decision in waiting too long.
let's put the past in the past. we're here now. got something that makes sense. and hopefully will be relentless in the pursuit of this enemy. frankly we've got a good chance to get after isis in syria. >> as the lower third on the screen tells you we have begun air strikes in syria. a u.s.-led operation involving the united states of america and five arab countries, all sunni countries, saudi arabia, uae, jordan, bahrain and qatar in there fighting alongside with the united states. the operation general keane has described as tomahawk missiles have already been fired from the destroyer. we will -- f-18s are flying missions off the u.s.s. george h.w. bush. expected to hit around 20 targets inside of syria. is that the size of the operation you would anticipate
at least on day one? >> well, look. this is never going to compare to what we did in kosovo, what we did in 2001 against the taliban government that was running the country and nor is it going to compare to what we did in 2003. there we had huge infrastructure and lots of targets. this has always been what we've described it at and what we wanted it, it's limited and specialized. so the number of targets are not comparable. the point is what those targets represent and destroying them is the most important thing. so the scale of it will be less than what we've seen in the past, but nonetheless it will be very important in terms of its consequences on the enemy. >> how long do you think this is going to take? i know that's a difficult question, general. but when you hear congressman king say this could be the beginning of a years long conflict, you know the feeling that evokes in so many people here in the states.
>> i doubt if the air strikes in syria would, you know, persist in that timeframe. we will strike as long as there are targets to strike. it's that simple. and if those targets are exposed to us, we will strike. and you know, megyn, we're going to be very careful here in striking these targets. we know for a fact that they try to protect and conceal some of these targets with people who are in syria. and we will do everything we can, you know, not the impact on people. this is our value base system that the military uses every it makes it longer. we discriminate. and we're going to do everything we can to avoid hurting people unnecessarily. and the fact of the matter is as long as there are targets to strike, we will strike them. >> how will this group fight
back? they seem so courageous when they have women and children and unarmed men running from them or unarmed hostages for that matter. how will they fight back against this kind of air power? >> they'll probably do something horrific in terms of barbarism. it will be interesting to see how they deal with the five arab muslim countries, megyn, who are participating. that will be an interesting issue for them to cope with because it is condemnation, you know, from these countries. and that presents to them psychological and emotional issue to deal with. so it will be interesting to see that. but the fact of the matter is they will continue to fight in iraq. but since we've started air strikes in iraq, megyn, they have been on the defensive as we thought they would be. and the fact of the matter is
now they're going to be on the defensive in syria. the issue will be as we've talked about for the last couple of weeks is air strikes are going to be significant. it will cause them damage. running them out of iraq and running them out of syria, that will take ground forces. and that is the toughest thing. and it's all in front of us. >> that's ground troops. >> yes, ma'am. >> that's something the president not only says we are not doing, it is something he says we will not do, general, do you believe he can possibly stick to that? >> as i've said to you before, isis will force the president to change his decisions about ground forces that are going to assist the iraqi army and the collage of peshmerga and also sunni tribes that are working with them. it is inevitable that we'll have
to put people down there as air ground controllers and special forces with the fighting units. and i also believe eventually he will commit direct action forces to go after and target the isis leadership. puts significant pressure as we did so successfully on iraq and afghanistan. i also said before eventually we will establish a contingency force in the event that that counteroffensive by the iraqi army and others failed, we will have to go in and take that over. it's inescapable. we don't put that together at some point. if they succeed, that's fine. but if they don't, then we'll have to use it. >> general keane, thank you so much. we greatly appreciate you being here. if at all possible we'd like to tap into your expertise later as "the kelly file" will be live again tonight at midnight with a special broadcast. our coverage of this important breaking news is going to
continue over the next few hours as we are back in the middle east bombing iraq, bombing syria tonight as the u.s. air campaign begins. stay tuned for continuing coverage right here. to degrade and eventually destroy, i'm shepherd smith at the fox news desk with continuing coverage from america's newsroom of our new war in syria. defense officials bombs and missiles began falling about an hour ago and greatly escalating a war against the savage terror group. the militant group that executed two american civilians cut off their heads and posted the video for the world to see. the terrorists also executed a british citizen and threatened