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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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September 17th, 2014
06:03 PM ET

Roundtable: Should Obama have taken combat mission off the table in fight against ISIS?

(CNN) – There are mixed signals between the Pentagon, the Secretary of State, and the White House on what the U.S. strategy will be to defeat the terrorist group ISIS.

On the one hand, Obama is trying to explain this fight to the American people, and why the U.S. is using military force, says CNN political commentator and former White House press secretary Jay Carney. On the other hand, he says, military leaders have to fulfill their responsibilities in explaining what hypotheticals might look like.

"We're talking about mixed messages and substantive policy issues and that always puts the White House a little on the defensive," said Carney.

"I don't think it's a messaging question," said The Weekly Standard's William Kristol.

Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates said the reality is the U.S. is not going to be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air. And Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey raised the specter Tuesday of U.S. troops in Iraq taking on a combat role to fight ISIS.

"(Dempsey and Gates) are serious people and they know if you commit to a military mission, you do not rule out one of the key components of military power," said Kristol.

The Obama administration has repeatedly said there will be no boots on the ground, no combat mission, in the fight against ISIS.

For more analysis from CNN political commentator Jay Carney and The Weekly Standard's William Kristol, check out the video above.

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