Washington (CNN)A Republican senator is proposing a new strategy to keep ISIS at bay and confront a critical facet of the threat: foreign fighters.
GOP senator: Secure Turkish-Syrian border
Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called in an opinion piece published in Politico late Tuesday for a "robust" NATO mission to help secure the Turkish-Syrian border, where most foreign fighters continue to flow in and out of Syria. Turkey is a member of the military alliance and its porous border with Syria has made it the transit point of choice for foreign fighters -- many of them European -- looking to cross into Syria, and sometimes return to Europe.
Coats will send a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter "most likely" on Wednesday requesting the Pentagon's take on the proposal, Coats spokesman Matt Lahr said.
"The enemy is at Europe's gates — and both Europeans and American citizens are helping to fuel the jihadist armies," Coats wrote in the opinion piece. "We must do more to fight the jihadists on the battlefield. One of the best ways we can do that is to prevent them from getting there in the first place."
Coats not only offered a new proposal to confront ISIS, but took a different tack from many of his Republican colleagues, who have focused on slamming the Obama administration's lack of strategy in Syria and President Barack Obama's refusal to label the threat under the banner of radical Islam.
More than 20,000 foreign fighters hailing from more than 90 countries, including the United States and European powers, have traveled to Syria to join ISIS.
The influx of foreign fighters has helped replenish ISIS's ranks despite being hit hard by a U.S.-led coalition effort that has ramped up since the summer.
And foreign fighters are posing a growing threat to Western countries, where intelligence agencies are struggling to keep track of those who may be returning from the battlefield in Syria and Iraq and potentially plotting attacks on European or American soil.
Coats suggests that NATO launch a mission on the border to "monitor and control the flow of would-be jihadists from throughout Europe and, perhaps even more important, on their way back home after serving the ISIL monster."
Coats' call for a NATO effort — "a dramatic, full-scale effort" — comes just months after the international military cooperative wrapped up its combat mission in Afghanistan and just over a week after authorities in the United Kingdom determined three British teenage girls had left their homes and crossed into Syria to join ISIS.