FORT SMITH — In town to help break ground for the U.S. Marshals Museum, Arkansas’ 3rd District representative spent time Wednesday talking politics and national threats like Islamic State militants and an Ebola outbreak "wreaking havoc" in West Africa.

FORT SMITH — In town to help break ground for the U.S. Marshals Museum, Arkansas’ 3rd District representative spent time Wednesday talking politics and national threats like Islamic State militants and an Ebola outbreak "wreaking havoc" in West Africa.


U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, blamed the Iraqi government, led by former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, for allowing the militant group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, to "get a toehold" in Iraq.


"The fact that we did a hasty pullout of Iraq after the surge and all the gains that we had made, including the outfitting and equipping of the Iraqi army, there was a terrible mistake made," Womack said. "And it was primarily Maliki and the actions he took in regard to his own military and where he was going to take the country. Maliki was a bad decision. He was just counterproductive to everything we had established."


Of the situation now, "I’m sick over it," Womack said.


"Now it’s a harder thing to destroy," he said. "We’re trying to wrestle momentum back from these people. It’s going to be an expensive deal. Quite frankly I’m not sure, and I’m not confident, that we can do it with air power alone.


"I think eventually it’s going to require holding some ground."


Womack said he does not like to "warmonger," but he stressed the seriousness of the situation with the Islamic State.


"If you look at our involvement in Europe in the 1940s (in World War II) … if that was important then, why wouldn’t this be as important?" he said.


The U.S. this week launched airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria and Iraq. The ultimate aim of the Obama administration and its Arab partners is to destroy the Islamic State group, which through brute force has carved out a proto-state in the heart of the Middle East, effectively erasing the border between Iraq and Syria, according to The Associated Press. Along the way, the extremist faction has massacred captured soldiers, terrorized religious minorities and beheaded two American journalists and a British aid worker.


The threat of the Islamic State "is enough to consume most members of Congress, and it should because it’s that important," Womack said Wednesday.


When talking of the Ebola outbreak sweeping across West Africa, Womack praised the efforts of Centers for Disease Control boss Tom Frieden.


"I sense the frustration in the director," Womack said. "This is a bad deal. It’s wreaking havoc in Western Africa. (Frieden), to his credit, has been there, he’s put eyes on it. The response of his agency has been pretty robust. But it’s going to require more or this stuff’s coming here."


According to the CDC, this year’s Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and the first in West Africa.


"This outbreak is the first Ebola epidemic the world has ever known, affecting multiple countries in West Africa," the CDC’s website states. "Although the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low, the CDC and partners are taking precautions to prevent this from happening."


In his bid for a third term, Womack faces Libertarian candidate Grant Brand of Pea Ridge in the Nov. 4 general election.