President Barrack Obama announced in a speech Wednesday evening that the U.S. will “degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”
The speech, given from the State Floor of the White House, came within weeks of a highly criticized address in which Obama declared that the U.S. doesn’t have a strategy yet to deal with the terrorist group ISIL, short for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. ISIL has also been referred to as ISIS by many media groups, but both names refer to the same terrorist organization.
“As commander in chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people,” Obama said. “While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies.”
The Obama administration has been increasing American military activity in Iraq since the terrorist group ISIL began an offensive to take over the Iraqi government. ISIL has drawn recent media scrutiny due to its brutal tactics including crucifixion, rape and religious genocide.
“In a region that has known much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality,” Obama said. “So tonight I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.”
Obama went on to outline a four-step military strategy on how America and its allies will accomplish their objectives.
“First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists,” Obama said. As president he has proven reluctant to put American soldiers back into Iraq and has repeatedly promised not to do so. He did, however, announce that an additional 475 service members will “support Iraqi and Kurdish forces with training, intelligence and equipment.”
The second tactic will be an increase in support to the forces currently fighting the terrorists on the ground. These include Iraqi security and military, as well as their national guard. He extended this objective into Syria, where an ongoing civil war has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties.
The third part of the Obama strategy involves counterterrorism efforts from the international community.
“Working with our partners, we will redouble our efforts to cut off its funding, improve our intelligence, strengthen our defenses, counter its warped ideology and stem the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East,” Obama said.
“Fourth,” he continued, “we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who’ve been displaced by this terrorist organization.”
The U.S. has already participated in multiple humanitarian missions and airdrops to assist tens of thousands of Iraqis displaced from their homes by ISIL fighters. According to Obama, these efforts have saved the lives of thousands of innocent people.
Obama praised America for being the one constant in an uncertain world, identifying it as the “only country with the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.”
“That is the difference we make in the world,” declared Obama. “And our own safety, our own security depends upon our willingness to do what it takes to defend this nation and uphold the values that we stand for.”
While it remains to be seen what the full extent of the strategy will be, it is clear that this will not be a short-term effort. The president is already planning a meeting in two weeks with the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community.