President Barack Obama today talked to the press about efforts against ISIS after meeting with military leaders at the Pentagon. USA Today reports:
President Obama said he's dispatching Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to the Middle East to help secure more help to fight the Islamic State, promising that his administration is "moving forward with a great sense of urgency" against the terrorist group.
"ISIL leaders cannot hide, and our message to them is simple: you are next," Obama said from the Pentagon Monday following a strategy session with top generals and national security advisers. Obama rattled off a litany of successes — more bombs being dropped, more territory being regained, more allies joining the fight — but acknowledged that it's not enough.
"All that said, we recognize that progress needs to happen faster," he said. He said there's a particular problem in urban areas controlled by the Islamic State, where militants are entrenched and often use civilians as use human shields. "Even as were relentless we need to be smart, targeting ISIL surgically and with precision," he said.
A key part of the U.S. strategy in recent weeks has been to attack the oil smuggling that gives the Islamic State much of its revenue. "As we squeeze its heart, we'll make it harder for ISIL to pump its terror and propaganda into the rest of the world," he said.
Southern Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally responded to Obama's comments in a press release:
People I speak with in Southern Arizona are rightfully concerned with the Administration’s slow and reluctant approach to ISIS. We have been missing leadership with resolve, and still lack a bold, aggressive strategy to take out ISIS’s critical capabilities, put them on their heels, and keep Americans safe.
ISIS declared a Caliphate 18 months ago, and last week before the House Armed Services Committee, the Secretary of Defense admitted that meetings with the State Department and Pentagon to coordinate efforts began only months ago. ISIS has been bringing in at least $1 million a day from black market oil sales to fund their global terrorist operations, yet we have just now started hitting their oil trucks a few weeks ago. Last week, I participated in a two hour classified discussion with Pentagon officials about the Command and Control and Rules of Engagement. Their responses only validated my concerns of a weak and ineffective military approach.
I have been calling on the Administration to completely revamp its military strategy and hoped President Obama's visit to the Pentagon today was the start of something new. Unfortunately, we heard about the same failed tactics, just used more frequently, with the same detached tone from the president.
I’ll continue to work in Congress to call for a stronger approach and put forward solutions that will address our security vulnerabilities, but Congress cannot do it alone. We need presidential leadership, and we’re just not seeing it.
Sen. John McCain responded via Twitter: