Sen. Ron Johnson has been making the argument for sending American troops to the Middle East for a number of months, saying it's the kind of commitment that the U.S. needs to show in encourage others to join the fight against ISIS.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on "UpFront with Mike Gousha," the host asked Johnson for a clearer definition of how many U.S. troops he envisions taking part in such a mission.
Johnson, a Republican from Oshkosh who chairs the Senate's Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, initially hesitated, saying he wasn't a military expert. But he said his model for what the U.S. should do to fight ISIS is what President George H.W. Bush did in response to the 1990 Iraq invasion of Kuwait.
"He very clearly laid out the goal, and then he assembled a coalition," Johnson said. "The U.S. provided about two-thirds of the troop level. Our coalition partners provided a third. Our coalition partners paid for 85 percent of that effort. Now that's a full commitment by the world community toward a goal."
Johnson said that because ISIS "is not that good militarily," the troop numbers would not need to be as high as they were for the early 1990s effort.
"I've been hearing 25,000 troops, a total coalition of maybe 100,000. I really don't know the exact numbers. But we have to be committed to the goal because every day that ISIS exists, they're going to continue to inspire the type of barbarity that we saw play out in Paris, in Beirut, the downing of the Russian jetliner. This threat isn't going away. It is growing, it is metastasizing. We have to take it seriously."
Johnson last week introduced in the Senate a companion bill to one passed by the House that he said would have U.S. officials certify that a full vetting process has been used in admitting any Syrian refugees.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Janesville, said the House bill would pause the plan by President Barack Obama's administration to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next year. Obama said he'd veto the bill.
Johnson conceded that the vetting is already a "pretty robust process" that takes 18 to 24 months. But he said he wants to make sure the efforts aren't short-circuited to allow for an increased number of refugees.
"I want to try and eliminate all threats to this nation," Johnson said. "That's impossible to do, but let's take a look at every program, including the refugees coming from Syria and do that very common-sense certification process."