Former special operations commander McRaven weighs in on Islamic State fight

William H. McRaven


By ELIZABETH FINDELL | The Dallas Morning News (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 4, 2015

From eliminating the Islamic State to figuring out how to handle concealed weapons on campus, University of Texas Chancellor Bill, the former U.S. special operations commander, had plenty to talk about at the Dallas Citizens Council annual meeting Thursday.

In a conversation with former CBS Evening News anchor Bob Schieffer in the Hyatt Regency ballroom, McRaven addressed hundreds of Dallas city officials, state leaders and local businesspeople.

McRaven told the story of the night of the raid that ended Osama bin Laden’s life and how McRaven had a Navy SEAL lie next to the body in order to determine its height. He also spoke of his time in Iraq and of the rise of the militant group ISIS.

“This is a level of barbarism that I haven’t seen on this scale in my 37 years [in the military],” he said of ISIS. “They just need to be wiped off the face of the earth.”

He added that he saw no end in sight to a threat he called unprecedented in its lack of rationality.

“This is going to be a long, hard war,” McRaven said. “The American people are going to have to commit to it one way or the other. It is going to require billions and billions of dollars. It is going to require a generational effort. It is going to require more lives of our young men and women.”

McRaven said that the transition from the military to the UT system last year wasn’t as difficult as some might think, calling his work as chancellor “a magnificent job.”

Though he’s a gun-lover himself, McRaven said he doesn’t like the idea of guns on college campuses because they might stifle lively debate. Still, he said the university system would obey the state’s mandate on campus carry. UT will also apply the universities’ authority to determine specific areas where weapons are not permitted.

After the speech, McRaven declined to say what types of restrictions he might like to see. He said those decisions will be made by individual universities, not the UT system.

“It’s entirely up to the presidents,” he said. “A lot of it depends on the faculty and their anxieties, but each campus is unique.”

McRaven also addressed criticism about the UT System’s plans to buy 300 acres in Houston for a future campus. The city is viewed by many as University of Houston territory.

In a strongly worded letter Wednesday, Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, called the proposed expansion “an affront.”

McRaven said the system will not delay the land purchase in response to Whitmire’s criticism, but he emphasized that plans for expansion into Houston are long-term. He said the system will begin with hearing task force recommendations and proceed slowly from there.

“What I’m hoping is the people of Houston will see we’re there to support the city of Houston,” McRaven said. “This is a generational plan.”


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