During an interview on CNN with anchor Jim Sciutto, Hagel said that today ISIS controls half of Iraq and half of Syria. "You've got to destroy it," Hagel said during the CNN interview. "Because if we don't destroy it, it will get worse."
When Sciutto asked if ISIS should be destroyed and not “just degraded or contained” Hagel said, “We will do everything possible that we can do to destroy their capacity to inflict harm on our people and western values and our interests.”
Hagel warned how dangerous he thinks ISIS is. "We know they're brutal. We know they are ... something that we have never seen before ... there's a dangerous, dangerous ideology of brutality of a barbaric nature that we have not seen before. So my job as secretary of Defense is not to second-guess what may be or what's going to be."
Making sure American troops have the most advanced weapons and technologies Hagel said is extremely important on the battlefield or US troops lives will be at risk.
"We are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies, and in space — not to mention cyberspace — can no longer be taken for granted," said Hagel. "And while the United States continues to maintain a decisive military and technological edge over any potential adversary, our continued superiority is not a given."
At the top of Hagel’s list he said are precision strikes and wide-area surveillance which he said are beginning to erode due to the decline of budget constraints.
Not clear about the immediate threat ISIS is to the U.S. right now, Hagel did have an idea about how many U.S. citizens are fighting in the Middle East with ISIS forces."We are aware of over 100 U.S. citizens who have U.S. passports who are fighting in the Middle East with ISIL forces," Hagel said. "There may be more, we don't know."
Hagel will join President Obama at the NATO summit in Wales on Thursday and is also scheduled to visit Georgia and Turkey.