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Clinton military advisor outlines 4-step plan for defeating ISIS

Fighting the war on terror: Adm. James Stavridis

It's time for America to get aggressive with ISIS, retired Adm. James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander and current Hillary Clinton advisor, said Tuesday.

Stavridis detailed a four-step plan for defeating the terrorist group on CNBC's "Squawk Box," where he made a case for a significant military push into parts of Iraq and Syria.

  • The first step is to occupy the city of Mosul, Iraq, which has been a center of ISIS activity and resources since 2014.
  • Next up is to "amp up the bombing campaign in Raqqa [in Syria]," the group's headquarters, the admiral said, in an effort to weaken ISIS' military epicenter.
  • Step three is to apply financial pressure, in turn reducing ISIS' ability to get the resources it requires.
  • And finally, step four: "Gradually closing the noose around Raqqa" using U.S. special forces and troops from Mideast allies serving under a unified leadership, Stavridis said.

The plan would require somewhere between 6,000 and 10,000 U.S. boots on the ground. "Not an insignificant number," he admitted, compared to the 5,000 American soldiers who are in the war-torn area today.

Trump about building walls, Clinton about bridges: Adm. James Stavridis

The retired admiral and current dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University also spoke to what he sees as the differences between Clinton's and Donald Trump's campaigns.

"A Trump administration, as you look at their approach to foreign policy, is more about building walls, about creating distance, [and] about heightening security," Stavridis said.

"A Clinton campaign," he continued, "is about building bridges, not walls. It's about connections, it's about international, interagency, private-public connections to try and create security."

"The right answer is probably a bit of both," he acknowledged, "but I would say, broadly speaking, we need more building of bridges than we do building of walls."

Stavridis had been on Clinton's shortlist for a running mate. The former secretary of state ended up choosing Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who on Tuesday night faces Trump's No. 2, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in the only vice presidential debate.