WASHINGTON — Arkansas members of Congress agree that the United States must take action to destroy jihadist forces spread across Syria and Iraq but aren’t all convinced that President Obama has a winning strategy.

WASHINGTON — Arkansas members of Congress agree that the United States must take action to destroy jihadist forces spread across Syria and Iraq but aren’t all convinced that President Obama has a winning strategy.


In separate interviews Thursday, members of the delegation offered a variety of opinions on what Obama has proposed and what they believe may be needed to achieve the goal of eradicating that group that calls itself the Islamic State.


Obama addressed the nation Wednesday evening about the threat posed by the group that is often referred to as ISIS or ISIL and his objective to "degrade" and "ultimately destroy" it through a "comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy."


Obama said that would include continued air strikes in Iraq and in Syria and increased support to those in Syria fighting against the Islamic State.


The president wants Congress to authorize training and equipping moderate Syrian rebels. The House and Senate may vote on that authorization next week. Some also want a vote on authorizing the broader effort as well as stipulating more oversight.


"I think it is really important that the president addressed the country and that we have a united front — that means a lot to our allies and it will resonate with ISIS," said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.


"I agree we need to move quickly but I also believe we need to have a conversation here in Congress about the parameters and not just take what he (Obama) has said," said Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock.


"At the end of the day, ISIS is a clear and present threat to all of us. It needs to be addressed and Congress needs to stand tall and do its part to insure that it is adequately addressed," said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers.


"I do think the president has come a long way in recognizing that ‘yes’ we do have to take action," said Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro.


"I do think that ISIS poses a danger. Their tactics and actions are deplorable and would offend any civilized nation. I think we need to destroy them," said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark. "I do support the air strikes."


"The United States and our allies can’t coexist in this world with the Islamic State. They are sworn enemies and they will do anything to strike us," said Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle.


While there is agreement that action is needed, the delegation expressed various concerns about the proposed strategy and how the president may implement it. They also had differing views on how Obama has handled the Middle East to this point.


"A plan that starts with degrading someone’s ability with an ultimate goal of defeat tells me it is going to be prolonged," Womack said. "I want to hear more and see what the overall plan is, but this country has got to stop pussyfooting around with enemies like this. There is a profound way you deal with some of these threats and I’d like to see us engaged in that fashion."


Crawford said he is concerned about providing weapons and training to "moderate" forces in Syria — questioning whether such a force exists.


"That is a tough sell. Any moderate elements in Syria have probably already been killed. What remains, I would be cautious to embrace," he said.


Griffin said that air strikes alone would not eradicate ISIS and cautioned that the effort about to be launched could stretch on for years.


"I would say to folks that this is part of the long war that we have been involved in for years. I’m not talking American ground troops — there is not support for that up here and people don’t support it. But, we can’t allow these barbarians to gain ground," he said.


Boozman said he supports air strikes and arming Syrian rebels that have been properly vetted so that weapons don’t end up in the hands of the enemy. But, he would not take off the table from the start the possibility of a ground war.


"Certainly nobody wants to see another Iraq or Afghanistan, but I don’t think you should just take boots on the ground off the table at the front end," he said. "We need to do whatever it takes."


Cotton, who served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, said it will take months and perhaps years to destroy the Islamic State given its strength. He blamed Obama for allowing it to grow by not acting sooner to eliminate it.


"It has become a terrorist army and it operates very much like a state. It controls territory. It produces taxes and it moves conventional infantry forces against other conventional infantry forces. So this could be a longer fight than it had to be," Cotton said.


Cotton also believes the strategy laid out by Obama Wednesday night would fall short of achieving the stated goal of destroying ISIS.


"I’m not yet convinced he has a plan that will produce victory," Cotton said.


Pryor said he thought Obama had provided some "needed clarity" about his strategy to defeat ISIS. He agrees with the call for air strikes and that an international coalition is needed with a strong component from the Middle East.


"Obviously I would prefer that if there are boots on the ground that it be a broad-based coalition and not us again doing it alone," he said. "Our nation is war weary and our men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much in Iraq and Afghanistan."