Sen. John McCain: Pentagon in 'denial' of Ramadi reality

Willie Grace | 4/17/2015, 1:34 p.m.
"Disregarding the strategic importance of Ramadi is a denial of reality and an insult to the families of hundreds of ...

"I was up front in our meetings about how a lasting victory over ISIL requires inclusive governance in Baghdad and respect for local populations in all areas liberated from ISIL control," Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the same news conference, his first since assuming office.

Carter also acknowledged the difficulty the U.S is having keeping tabs on Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula -- an organization with the stated goal of attacking the United States -- now that America doesn't have a presence in its host country of Yemen.

"It's easier if there's a government with which we can cooperate in existence in that country," Carter said of the Persian Gulf state engulfed in a brutal civil war, with AQAP now seizing an airport in the southeastern part of the country.

While officials do not acknowledge it publicly, the United States can still address the terror threat in Yemen using unmanned aerial drones.

The Pentagon officials also addressed the recent announcement from Russia that it would sell Iran an advanced air defense system. Dempsey said that despite the sale, the United States would still be able to act if a deal over Iran's nuclear program does not ultimately succeed.

"The military option that I owe the president to both encourage the diplomatic solution and, if the diplomacy fails, to ensure that Iran doesn't achieve a nuclear weapon, is intact," he said.

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