U.S. President Barack Obama said the 1,500 additional U.S. troops he was sending to Iraq would not be used for combat. Rough cut.
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION STORY: U.S. President Barack Obama said his decision to double the number of U.S. military advisers in Iraq marked a new phase in the campaign against Islamic State and was not an indication his strategy in the region had failed. "What it signals is a new phase," Obama said. "This is an extreme group of the sort we haven't seen before, but it also combines terrorist tactics with on the ground capabilities, in part because they incorporate a lot of Saddam Hussein's old military commanders. And this is a threat that we are committed not only to degrade, but ultimately destroy. It's going to take some time." Obama, in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation" broadcast on Sunday, said the first phase was getting an Iraqi government in place that was inclusive and credible. He said sending in 1,500 additional American troops also signified a shift from a defensive strategy to an offensive one. The decision was announced on Friday. "The air strikes have been very effective in degrading ISIL's capabilities and slowing the advance that they were making," Obama said. "Now what we need is ground troops, Iraqi ground troops, that can start pushing them back." U.S. air strikes on Saturday destroyed an Islamic State convoy near the Iraqi city of Mosul, but U.S. officials said it was unclear whether the group's top commander, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been in any of the 10 targeted vehicles. The decision to send more troops came five months after Islamic State seized much of northern Iraq. The militant group has also seized territory in Syria, where the U.S. is leading air strikes targeting the militants. President Obama stressed there would be no U.S. combat troops involved. "What hasn't changed is our troops are not engaged in combat" he said. "Essentially what we're doing is we're taking four training centers with coalition members that allow us to bring in Iraqi recruits, some of the Sunni tribes that are still resisting ISIL, giving them proper training, proper equipment, helping them with strategy, helping them with logistics." Obama's 2012 withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq has been sharply criticized by some Republicans, including U.S. Senator John McCain, as having left the country to spin into sectarian strife and chaos.