Washington: Leading Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has ruled out sending thousands of US ground troops to fight IS but has supported use of air power to defeat the terror outfit even as he said America needs to rethink its involvement in NATO.
"The military tells me, we need 20,000 or 30,000 troops. I wouldn't deploy 20,000. I'd get people from that part of the world to put up the troops, and I'd certainly give them air power and air support and some military support. But I would never ever put up 20,000 or 30,000," Trump told CNN.
"We've spent USD 2 trillion, at least, in Iraq. We're spending trillions of dollars in the Middle East. You know where we are now? We're further back than we were 15 years ago. We are in such bad shape. The Middle East is a disaster for us," Trump said.
"In the meantime, our country is crumbling, we have a country, the roads are no good. The hospitals are no good. The airports are third world airports," he argued.
"Our country is under siege. We're under attack. We're under attack in virtually every way. Our economy is falling apart. Our trade deals are no good. Our health care is no good. Look what happens in our country. Our security is no good. People that are convicted criminals are pouring across the border. We have to be vigilant, we have to be smart or we're not going to have a country any longer," he said.
He said the US needs to rethink its involvement in NATO arguing that the military alliance is a big financial strain on the nation as its allies are not contributing much.
"We're paying disproportionately, it's too much, and frankly, it's a different world than it was when we originally conceived of the idea and everybody got together. So I think we have to reconsider -- keep NATO but maybe we have to pay a lot less toward NATO itself," he argued.
Acknowledging that NATO allies "might not be happy" with his policy, Trump said they have to help the US, which is in a USD 19 trillion debt.
Trump said he would not decrease the US' role in NATO "but certainly decrease the kind of spending. We are spending a tremendous amount in NATO, and others proportionately less - no good," he said.