Obama Pledges to Degrade, Destroy ISIL

President Obama
President Obama outlines his strategy for combating the terrorist threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Washington — “America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat,” President Obama told the American people in a televised address September 10. “Our objective is clear: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

The address came in the wake of a NATO Summit in Wales where leaders of allied nations discussed the growing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and ways to counter it. It also followed the brutal executions of two American journalists by ISIL.

Obama listed four key aspects of his strategy. The United States will:

  • Conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against the terrorists.
  • Increase its support to forces fighting ISIL on the ground.
  • Continue to draw on its substantial counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIL attacks.
  • Continue to provide humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization.

“In each of these four parts of our strategy, America will be joined by a broad coalition of partners,” Obama said. “This is American leadership at its best: We stand with people who fight for their own freedom, and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.”

The president drew a clear distinction between this action and previous U.S. military engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, stating that it would not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.

“This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama said. “This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”

Prior to the address, the president consulted with members of Congress and talked with leaders in the region, including King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia.

Also on September 10, Obama delegated authority to the secretary of state to direct the use of up to $25 million in equipment and services of the Department of Defense to provide immediate assistance to Iraq to combat ISIL.

“This authority could be used to provide critical supplies and transportation of equipment for Iraqi forces, including Kurdish Regional Government forces operating under the central government’s authority,” according to the State Department’s Marie Harf. “The United States could also use this authority to provide equipment, including ammunition, small arms and vehicles, to the Government of Iraq, as well as military education and training.”