President Obama made a rare visit to the Pentagon yesterday and delivered an update on the mission against ISIS and an outline of US strategy in what Obama stresses will be a long-term fight. The four key points, per the Pentagon conference and the White House, which uses the ISIL acronym for the group:
- More airstrikes. The US is stepping up strikes in Syria as well as Iraq, and Obama says the strikes will "continue to target the oil and gas facilities that fund so much of their operations."
- More support for those fighting ISIS on the ground. The White House says the US has "ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition" fighting the group, as well as continued to provide the training and support Iraqi government forces and Kurdish fighters need.
- Making full use of US power and counterterrorism expertise. To fight ISIS in ways that include cutting off its funding, the "comprehensive strategy" includes "harnessing all elements of American power across our government—military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic development, and perhaps most importantly, the power of our values," Obama said yesterday.
- Helping civilians displaced by ISIS. The White House says its strategy includes helping Muslims of all sects forced out of their homes by ISIS, "as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities."
Obama didn't announce the deployment of any more troops, and he said the strategy recognizes that "no amount of military force will end the terror that is ISIL unless it's matched by a broader effort, political and economic, that addresses the underlying conditions that have allowed ISIL to gain traction," ABC
reports. "They have filled a void and we have to make sure that, as we push them out, that void is filled." But so far, filling the "void" has exposed weaknesses in US strategy, the Washington Post
reports. ISIS has suffered major setbacks in Syria in recent weeks, but the anti-ISIS offensive has been led by Kurdish forces backed by US airstrikes, and as it moves into Arab-dominated areas, even Syrians firmly opposed to ISIS fear that the Kurds are trying to change the demography of the region, the Post