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Obama: ISIL Presents a Hybrid Threat

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2014 – The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a hybrid threat, President Barack Obama said last night on the CBS program “60 Minutes.”

ISIL is a terror network with territorial ambitions and some of the strategy and tactics of an army, Obama told reporter Steve Kroft.

While the group is a threat regionally and possibly at home, “This is not America against ISIL,” the president said.

“This is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership with to make sure that they are able to take care of their business,” he added.

The United States and coalition partners are providing airstrikes, supplies, training and assistance to Iraqi and Kurdish forces. The United States has launched airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria. American service members are advising and assisting Iraqi forces and are beginning the process of training Syrian moderates. All this will take time, Obama said.

A generational challenge

“I think this is going to be a generational challenge,” the president said. “I don’t think that this is something that's going to happen overnight.”

Changing the way people think and relate to each other is the heart of a solution, Obama said. “What our military operations can do,” he added, “is to just check and roll back these networks as they appear and make sure that the time and space is provided for a new way of doing things to begin to take root.”

The U.S. intelligence community underestimated ISIL, and intelligence analysts overestimated the fighting capabilities of Iraqi forces, the president said.

The new Iraqi unity government led by Prime Minister Haidr al-Abadi is a good start, the president said, but he emphasized that it’s only a start.

Not just a military problem

“We cannot do this for them, because it’s not just a military problem, it is a political problem,” Obama said. “And if we make the mistake of simply sending U.S. troops back in, we can maintain peace for a while. But unless there is a change in not just Iraq, but countries like Syria and some of the other countries in the region, think about what political accommodation means [and] think about what tolerance means.”

The world is paying attention and participating, the president said, noting that Arab nations are joining the United States, Britain, France, Belgium and others in airstrikes against ISIL.

Yet while other nations participate, Obama said, America leads. “We are the indispensable nation,” the president said. “We have capacity no one else has. Our military is the best in the history of the world. And when trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don't call Beijing, they don't call Moscow. They call us. That’s the deal.”

And the United States will answer, Obama said. When there are disasters in the world or when war threatens, the world turns to the United States.

“That's how we roll, and that's what makes this America,” he said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @garamoneDoDNews)


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