The U.S. Strategy To Defeat ISIL and Combat the Terrorist Threat
President Obama provides an update from the Pentagon on our progress to degrade and destroy ISIL.
Who We’re Fighting
Here’s a look at the evolution of ISIL and the terrorist threat.
The terrorists who fight for ISIL have perverted a religion into a dangerous ideology.
Our nation has been at war with terrorists since al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. We answered that tragic attack by hardening our defenses and critical infrastructure, disrupting countless plots and pursuing terrorist networks overseas, disrupting safe havens in different countries, and decimating al Qaeda's leadership, including the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
But over the last few years, the terrorist threat has evolved. Even as we've become better at preventing complex, multifaceted attacks like 9/11, terrorists are turning to less complicated acts of violence, like homemade explosive devices or mass shootings. As the chaos in the region disrupts societies, and as the Internet erases the distance between countries, today we are seeing terrorists try to extend their ideological reach into American communities and poison the minds of people like the Boston Marathon bombers or the San Bernardino killers.
The terrorist group known as ISIL was formerly al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq. In the summer of 2014, ISIL had surged into Iraq, directly threatening Baghdad and Erbil, including locations where U.S. personnel were located, and perpetrating horrific atrocities, beheadings, crucifixions, and immolations.
Though it calls itself the "Islamic State," it is neither Islamic nor a state. It is a terrorist organization that has perverted a religion into a dangerous ideology. ISIL terrorists have committed countless barbaric atrocities. ISIL's strategy relies on us giving into fear, abandoning our values, and allowing ourselves to be drawn into a long and costly ground war. They know if we occupy foreign lands, they can maintain insurgencies for years that will claim the lives of thousands of our troops, drain our resources, and give them leverage to draw new recruits.
A successful strategy to counter ISIL and the terrorist threat must reflect an understanding of how ISIL functions and the most effective means to dismantle and destroy their operation.
What We’re Doing
President Obama has a strategy to defeat ISIL, fight terrorism, and protect the homeland.
The President is pursuing a comprehensive strategy that draws on every aspect of American power. Here's an up-to-date look at what we're doing to combat the threat of terrorism abroad and here at home.
Supporting and Enabling Our Global Partners
On September 10, 2014, President Obama announced the formation of a broad international coalition to defeat ISIL. Since then, the United States has led 66 international partners in a global coalition to counter ISIL with a focus on liberating ISIL-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. The mission is aimed at striking ISIL at its core, degrading its networks, and constraining its prospects for expansion. This is a multi-year effort, but we are united with our Coalition partners in making progress together to degrade and destroy ISIL.
Relentlessly Pursuing ISIL's Leadership and Shrinking ISIL's Safehavens
Brett McGurk, Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, delivers remarks to press on June 10, 2016
The U.S. military killed several key Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, including a senior ISIL leader and finance minister who led certain external affairs and plots. Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently spoke on the removal of this ISIL leader and on the campaign to hamper ISIL operations:
You can learn more about the Department of Defense’s Operation Inherent Resolve here.
Protecting the Homeland and Cutting Off ISIL's Finances and Foreign Fighters
In addition to intensifying the military campaign in Iraq and Syria, we are working closely with international partners to improve our homeland defenses.
Expanding Humanitarian Support
The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian support to the victims of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. The United States is already the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian and Iraqi people – some $5.1 billion since the start of the conflict. We provide life life-saving support, including food, water, shelter, medical care and warm clothing to those people in need throughout the region.
Pursuing a Diplomatic Solution to Conflicts That Feed Terrorism
As we intensify our counter-ISIL military efforts, the United States remains committed to a political transition in Syria and continues to press forward in that effort through the current hostilities.