President Obama will detail the next phase in the U.S. strategy to combat ISIS in a speech on Wednesday.
“The next phase is now to start going on some offense. We have to get an Iraqi government in place. And I’m optimistic that next week, we should be able to get that done,” Obama said on “Meet the Press” Sunday, after explaining that the U.S. has already made moves to protect American personnel and shifter intelligence resources.
While Obama said that next steps would include he military, he insisted that there won’t be any boots on the ground.
“But this is not going to be an announcement about U.S. ground troops. This is not the equivalent of the Iraq war. What this is is similar to the kinds of counterterrorism campaigns that we’ve been engaging in consistently over the last five, six, seven years,” he said.
The president added that ISIS does not yet pose a direct threat to the U.S.
“I want everybody to understand that we have not seen any immediate intelligence about threats to the homeland from ISIL. That’s not what this is about,” he said. “What it’s about is an organization that, if allowed to control significant amounts of territory, to amass more resources, more arms to attract more foreign fighters, including from areas like Europe, who have Europeans who have visas and then can travel to the United States unimpeded, that over time, that can be a serious threat to the homeland.”
Obama said that if any military intervenes in Syria, it will be Iraqi soldiers.
“But you also cannot, over the long term or even the medium term, deal with this problem by having the United States serially occupy various countries all around the Middle East,” he said. “We don’t have the resources. It puts enormous strains on our military. And at some point, we leave. And then things blow up again.”
Obama will also meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday.