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Robert Gates, who served as secretary of defense under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, urged Obama to "intensify" his current strategy against the Islamic State but cautioned against deploying American ground troops in Syria and against backing a Saudi, Gulf States-force to fight the Islamic State in Iraq.

"Well, I do think it does need to be sped up, and intensified," Gates said, responding to a question from Chuck Todd on "Meet The Press" about Obama's current Islamic State strategy. "But when I hear people talking about a completely different strategy, I don't know what that is."

"Putting tens of thousands of U.S. troops in there is not a near-term solution," Gates said.

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