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WASHINGTON, DC — President Obama on Wednesday made the case for Congress to formally authorize the use of military force in the war against ISIS, declaring that congressional passage of the measure makes the U.S. “strongest” in the fight, and that “ISIL is going to lose.”
“Now, make no mistake, this is a difficult mission and it will remain difficult for some time,” he said during an afternoon press conference. But, he added, “Our coalition is on the offensive, ISIL is on the defensive and ISIL is going to lose.”
Obama, flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, outlined the parameters of the request he delivered to Congress earlier that day. He said the bill reflects “our core objective to destroy ISIL,” and includes authority for a “systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes,” support and training for forces on the ground and humanitarian assistance.
He made clear, however, that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, does not call for the deployment of ground troops in Iraq or Syria.
“I am convinced that the U.S. should not get back into another ground war in the Middle East — it’s not in our national security interest and not necessary for us to defeat ISIL,” he said.
The proposal does give the military the “flexibility” to confront “unforeseen circumstances,” potentially by deploying special forces in the region.
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill received a draft AUMF, a resolution that would formally authorize the already six-month-old U.S. military effort against the militant group.
The joint resolution would limit the President’s authority to wage a military campaign against ISIS to three years and does not authorize “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” according to text of the resolution.
In a letter to Congress, Obama explained that the draft resolution would give him the authority to authorize “ground combat operations in limited circumstances,” including rescue operations and special forces operations to “take military action against ISIL leadership.”
The resolution would also sunset the 2002 AUMF that spawned the Iraq War. Obama withdrew American troops from Iraq in 2011, but the military authorization remains in effect.