TAMPA, Fla. -
As the United States continues to employ a whole-of-government approach and partner with an international coalition to defeat and destroy the terrorist organization Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly referred to as ISIL or Da'esh, two events this week contributed to advancing the counter-ISIL campaign.
First, ministers from nearly 70 countries, the U.N. secretary-general, senior officials from other multilateral bodies, and representatives from civil society and the private sector gathered in Washington D.C. this week for a three-day summit on countering violent extremism. According to the White House, the summit provided an opportunity to approach countering violent extremism in a comprehensive way and build upon the framework of the U.N. Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which encourages the U.N. and other multilateral bodies to intensify efforts to identify and address the local drivers of violent extremism.
"ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iraq," said President Barack Obama during summit remarks. "(ISIL) beheads and burns human beings in unfathomable acts of cruelty. We've seen deadly attacks in Ottawa and Sydney, Paris, and now Copenhagen. So, in the face of this challenge, we have marshalled the full force of the United States government, and we're working with allies and partners to dismantle terrorist organizations and protect the American people.
"Given the complexities of the challenge and the nature of the enemy - which is not a traditional army - this work takes time, and will require vigilance and resilience and perspective," he added. "But I'm confident that, just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail. And part of what gives me that confidence is the overwhelming response of the world community to the savagery of these terrorists - not just revulsion, but a concrete commitment to work together to vanquish these organizations."
Meanwhile, this week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, military chiefs and representatives from 25 partner nations met to discuss the ongoing fight against ISIL. The Chiefs of Defense Conference was the fifth of its kind for the coalition and offered leaders an opportunity to discuss the progress of the military campaign designed to counter and ultimately defeat Da'esh.
"We had a very productive meeting among the counter-Da'esh coalition members (Thursday)," said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command. "The coalition remains the strength of our military campaign, and we assess that through our collective efforts we are having the desired effects on the enemy. It is important to note that although Da'esh continues to conduct barbaric acts of terrorism, the group's capability has been degraded in Syria, and they are proving unable to take and hold new territory in Iraq, which is essential to their self-declared Caliphate. The counter-Da'esh campaign will take time, but we will defeat this enemy."
The U.S. government's overall approach to countering ISIL involves several lines of effort which include: supporting effective governance in Iraq; denying ISIL safe-haven; building partner capacity; enhancing intelligence collection on ISIL; disrupting ISIL's finances; exposing ISIL's true nature; disrupting the flow of foreign fighters; protecting the homeland; and humanitarian support.