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Watch: Senator Dan Coats Talks ISIS Strategy

The U.S. is planning an attack against Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq that is being held by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

The success of the U.S.-coordinated mission is considered by many, including Senator Dan Coats, R-Indiana, a potential turning point in the fight against ISIS.

The Obama administration announced plans for an invasion in April or May, made up of 25,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops.

The exact role of the U.S. military in the attack is still unclear. U.S. officials have indicated the president might authorize, some troops such as special forces, to be involved on the ground.

But critics, including Coats who is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, say publicly releasing the timeline was a mistake.

We asked Senator Coats what he thought. Here's the interview:

This interview has been edited for quality and clarity.

Joe Hren: What role do you think the U.S. needs to play in reclaiming Mosul?

Sen. Dan Coats: It's going to need to play a major role and I don't mean troops on the ground necessarily. But without U.S. ability to adequately train those forces that will have to go on the ground, coordinate all of that with all the air assets and everything else that is going to be necessary to reclaim Mosul.

It's going to require a lot of sophistication and a lot of coordination and the United State is about the only nation that can provide that. We had a detailed discussion about that yesterday in my intelligence committee.

A failure [in Mosul] would be such a boost for ISIL in terms of recurring and their recognition as a power."

Present was a representative from the Department of Defense, relative to what it would take and what it is necessary and how all of this should play out. It is important to do this right.

A failure there would be such a boost for ISIL in terms of recurring and their recognition as a power. It's just unacceptable. So this needs to be thought through very very carefully and done right and there should not be a rush to do it.

Hren: Why is this such a major step in the fight against ISIS?

Coats: It's a major city. It's a major takeover. Just think of someone occupying the United States and controlling one of the top one or two major cities. It's well over a million people. Having stated that this is the goal and this is the strategy, and I think that was a mistake to define that which as much definition that took place through the commander of the forces – timing and everything else.

It's just not what you do. It's like signaling the pro football team you're playing on Sunday what your playbook is going to be. Having said that though we put it on the line as a really key issue and strategy position relative to what we're going to do in regards to ISIL and ISIS. So that's why I say once having done that we've got to make sure it's done right.

We have got to make sure we have the adequate amount of time to get the right pieces in place, to accomplish the goal and to succeed.

Hren: President Obama has identified airstrikes as a key part in his strategy to defeat ISIS. Is that enough?

Coats: I think it's proven it's not enough. ISIL is still alive and well and continuing to seize some territory. We have had some setbacks for them. We have slowed their advance, but we saw Anbar Province. They had taken territory that surprised everybody, lobbing shells into Baghdad.

So this is the real thing. We need to understand it from that standpoint.

So I'll say again – coordinating this and doing it right – it is absolutely essential now that we've put this into play. It means that the U.S. must take the lead in providing the necessary supportive assets and that's a lot more than just airpower. That's reconnaissance, that's intelligence, that's getting the Iraqi army trained at the right abilities to succeed along with whatever other coalition we put together.

Hren: Some Americans are worried this could turn into another Iraq War. What would you say to those people?

Coats: Well, we've hopefully learned a lot from our inability to do what we had hoped we could do the first time around and what I'm saying to those people is we need to look at ISIL for what it is. It is a barbaric but very well-funded, socially adept from a media standpoint organization that is like a cancer spreading throughout countries.

Left untouched we will pay a much greater price in the future. So I think the real issue is now before us in the coming years.

I think the President needs to realize that and I have stressed from the very beginning, it must include significant representation and participation from Muslim moderation nations. They have to step up.

We cannot simply just impose our way on the Middle East. This is a threat. A worldwide threat. A threat to the United States as they have stated.

Without moderate Muslim states stepping into the breach here and standing up and saying enough is enough, we're not going to succeed."

But without moderate Muslim states stepping into the breach here and standing up and saying enough is enough, we're not going to succeed. So that is a huge challenge from a diplomatic standpoint for the President.

Now ISIL is helping us because these barbaric actions that they're taking is energizing nations like Jordan and Egypt and others. I'm sorry that is has to take that to get their attention, but we need their involvement. And turkey is probably the next country that needs to step up.

Hren: Reporters were briefed on some of the details of the operation to retake Mosul including a timeline and how many fighters could be involved. That is highly unusual. Do you think releasing that information was appropriate?

Coats: No I don't think it was appropriate. I think the commander was way out of line in terms of defining what we're going to do and when we're going to do it. Like I said, it's like the coach of the Colts telling the coach of the Patriots this is what our offensive plan is going to be and here's when we're going to do it. We're going to do it in the third quarter and we're going to use these amount of troops.

I don't understand that at all unless it is for deception purposes. So we're trying to get to the bottom of this and as I said, I spent hours in the Senate Intelligence Committee meeting yesterday debating this and a number of other issues, but all of these questions that you've raised, were raised there.

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