US President Barack Obama meets Wednesday with generals planning his assault against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq as he wraps up a two-day trip devoted to sudden national security crises over jihadism and Ebola.
Obama will sit down with General Lloyd Austin, chief of US Central Command at his Florida headquarters, to assess how the military is following through on his new strategy to combat IS announced last week.
US jets in Iraq have already made good on Obama’s vow to expand the mandate of American forces to go after the extremist Sunni group in Iraq, following the first raids of the stepped up campaign outside Baghdad overnight Monday.
His effort won a rare Republican endorsement on Tuesday when the party’s leaders in the House of Representatives and the Senate backed his strategy. But some lawmakers still complained it lacks punch, reflecting the president’s long-held desire to avoid another Middle East war.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that Obama had asked to visit MacDill Air Force base, where Centcom is headquartered, after giving his speech on his new anti-IS strategy on September 10.
The president “plans to discuss the plan for building an international coalition to degrade and destroy (IS),” Earnest said.
Obama, who will give public remarks during his trip to the base, will also meet senior representatives from nations that form part of Central Command’s theater of operations, which encompasses the troubled belt of South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
“Many of these nations will be an important part of the international coalition that the President will be leading against IS,” said Earnest.