In a speech from the Whitehouse on Wednesday, President Barrack Obama informed the world of his vision for a multi-pronged strategy to combat Islamic Militants that have taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq. This speech marks a significant change of direction for the U.S. President as he has attempted to scale-down American military involvement in the Middle East for the majority of his time in office.
The U.S has already been engaged in a campaign of limited airstrikes against ISIS forces in Iraq and the new strategy calls for a dramatic increase in this method of attack. Over the past month, the U.S. has deployed more than 150 airstrikes against the militants. However, the scope of the mission was narrow in that the intention was to protect American assets in the region and to allow for humanitarian relief for Iraqis that were displaced by the ISIS fighters.
The most notable change that the new plan will have on airstrikes is that the U.S. will begin to target ISIS in Syria, which was off-limits for the previous campaign. In this regard, President Obama stated, “That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”
The American President’s plan also calls for an additional 475 members of American Military personnel to be sent in assistance of the Iraqi Military and other forces that are combating ISIS in the region. These troops are not expected to engage in direct combat with the militants and their role will be limited to providing support and intelligence.
Mr. Obama will also be seeking approval from the American Congress for a plan to arm and train Kurdish Military groups and factions of the Syrian opposition that are opposed to ISIS. This new plan would be an expansion of an existing program of arming and training the Free Syrian Army and the U.S. is expecting assistance from Saudi Arabia in facilitating the expansion of the program.