Obama: U.S. intensifying Islamic State strategy on all fronts

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    The Paris attacks have reignited the debate over how the United States and other nations should respond to a global terror organization that's expanding its targets beyond Iraq and Syria.

    This week, France's president is seeking additional help from both the U.S. and Russia.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Our coalition will not relent.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    Traveling in Malaysia yesterday, President Obama pledged to take the fight to the Islamic State. The terror attacks in Paris, which led to a wider European alert, follow 16 months of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The assault slowed the group's territorial expansion, but the president insists U.S. involvement will not include direct ground combat.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    Destroying ISIL is not only a realistic goal. We're going to get it done, and we're going to pursue it with every aspect of American power. The United States will continue to lead this global coalition. We are intensifying our strategy on all fronts with local partners on the ground.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    The U.S. role in battling ISIS has evolved in recent months. There are more than 3,000 American troops in Iraq providing logistical training and combat advice. American and Kurdish commandos stormed an ISIS prison in Iraq last month, rescuing dozens of men.

    And, earlier this month, the president announced that 50 U.S. special operations troops would be heading to Syria. But the U.S. policy of incremental involvement has been questioned by the president's political opponents and even by some of his former appointees. Two former defense secretaries weighed in yesterday on whether the president is focusing on the right target and with the right amount of force.

    LEON PANETTA, Former Secretary of Defense: The U.S. has to lead in this effort, because what we have learned a long time ago is, if the United States doesn't lead, nobody else will.

    We are going to have to commit additional resources to this effort. We're hitting some targets, but airstrikes alone are not going to win here.

    CHUCK HAGEL, Former Secretary of Defense: Assad is a very bad guy. There are bad guys all over the world. But I think it's pretty clear that ISIS represents the real threat to our country, to the world.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    President Obama is scheduled meet with French President Francois Hollande tomorrow to discuss the coalition's next steps.

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