Panetta: U.S. needs to bolster ISIS strategy

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Washington (CNN)The United States needs to bolster its strategy in confronting ISIS if it is going to achieve its mission of degrading and destroying the terror group, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Sunday.

The U.S. faces a "whole new chapter" of terror threats with ISIS, Panetta told CNN's Jim Acosta on "State of the Union," because the group is not only well-funded, but well-managed.
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"As a result of that, I think that they can conduct the kind of offensive operations that can be very effective and that have to be met tooth and nail with everything we've got," Panetta said. "We've got to be sure that we are committed every day of the week."
    President Barack Obama is now seeking to inscribe the U.S.'s commitment to the fight against ISIS into law, submitting this week his proposal for an Authorization for Use of Military Force to Congress.
    Panetta said he is confident Obama can wrangle Congress to pass the authorization. He added that he supports Obama's draft AUMF, which he said stikes "a pretty good balance" by both giving the President the flexibility he needs to fight ISIS and keeping the U.S. out of a "large ground war" in Iraq or Syria.
    But Panetta called "total dysfunction in Washington" the "biggest national security threat," slamming Congress for getting "so little" done.
    "If they wind up not being able to do a war authorization it sends a terrible message to the world," Panetta said.
    But even with an AUMF in place, Panetta insisted that the U.S. needs to remember the need to continue to lead the coalition fighting ISIS.
    "It's important to understand that this is not an enemy that you can kind of stand aside and not confront," Panetta said. "If we stand aside, if we don't get aside, if we don't provide leadership, unfortunately no one else will."
    Panetta, who served as both secretary of defense and CIA director in the Obama administration, has been critical of the President since leaving the administration. He published a book last year in which he criticized some of Obama's foreign policy decisions, notably when it comes to the Syrian civil war.
    Panetta agreed that the U.S. is making gains against ISIS in Iraq but warned that the U.S. needs to fully tackle ISIS in Syria to keep that country from becoming a safe haven for ISIS to plan attacks against the West.
    But Panetta said it's clear Obama has learned from his mistakes and now has "the right pieces in place to confront ISIS."
    "There's no question in my mind that some mistakes were made here," Panetta said. "Presidents make mistakes, but they also learn from those mistakes."