Obama to address nation on ‘game plan’ in fight against ISIS

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(CNN) — U.S. President Barack Obama will deliver a speech Wednesday to explain to the nation “what our game plan is going forward” in the fight against ISIS.

In an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama expressed confidence that the United States, with help from regional partners, will be able to wipe out the terror organization.

The United States will not put its own troops on the ground, he said, but will orchestrate airstrikes in support of Iraqi and Kurdish troops.

“This is something that we know how to do. We’ve been dealing with terrorist threats for quite some time,” Obama said, pointing to the weakening of al Qaeda and last week’s killing of Al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in Somalia.

Step one, Obama said, was to put “eyes on the problem,” assessing the situation and shifting intelligence and reconnaissance resources accordingly. The second step was to protect American personnel, embassies and consulates, while conducting humanitarian operations and ensuring cities such as Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan and critical infrastructure such as Mosul Dam weren’t overrun, he said.

“The next phase is now to start going on some offense,” he said. “We have to get an Iraqi government in place, and I’m optimistic that next week we should be able to get that done.”

While the U.S. plan to help Iraqi and Kurdish troops take back areas under ISIS control is key to defeating the militants, Obama said the strategy will have economic, political and military prongs.

One of the political prongs will involve working to "attract back Sunni tribes that may have felt that they had no connection to a Baghdad government that was ignoring their grievances."

Obama said he will speak to Congress on Tuesday to discuss the administration's strategy, let lawmakers "have buy-in" and debate the plan. But asked by host Chuck Todd if he was seeking congressional authorization of his strategy, Obama appeared to say no.

"I'm confident that I've got the authorization that I need to protect the American people," he said.

Despite ISIS recently beheading journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, American intelligence doesn't point to any immediate threats that ISIS poses to the United States, he said. But if the group continues to expand the territory under its control, while amassing arms and attracting more fighters, especially those from Europe, "over time that can be a serious threat to the homeland," Obama said.

"We've seen the savagery, not just in terms of how they dealt with the two Americans that had been taken hostage, but the killings of thousands of innocents in Iraq, thousands of innocents in Syria, the kidnapping of women, the complete disruption of entire villages," he said.

Wednesday's speech, which will come a day before the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, will help the American public better grasp the administration's plan, he said.

"What I want people to understand is that over the course of months, we are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of (ISIS), we are going to systematically degrade their capabilities, we're going to shrink the territory that they control and ultimately, we're going to defeat them," Obama said.



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