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The Campaign Against ISIL Could Outlast Obama's Presidency

The strategy President Obama will outline to the nation to defeat the Islamic State would take three years – if not more – to carry out, officials said.

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The strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that President Obama will outline to the nation on Wednesday will be a campaign that takes years and be passed on to his successor.

Multiple reports on Monday morning quoted senior administration officials signaling that Obama's stated plan to go "on offense" against ISIL would be a lengthy one carried out in phases.

In an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" that aired Sunday, Obama said he would lay out a strategy to systematically "degrade" and then "defeat" the Islamic State, and while he suggested he did not need explicit congressional authorization, he made clear that it would take more money than the government had allocated thus far.

The president plans to preview his address to congressional leaders in a meeting Tuesday. He and other top administration officials have spent the last several days trying to build a coalition to go after ISIL. That effort appeared to yield success Monday when the Arab League approved a resolution agreeing to combat, "either individually or collectively" the Islamic State, according to the Associated Press. The A.P. noted that the resolution stopped short of explicitly endorsing U.S. military action.

Obama has said emphatically that the expanded military effort would not include a U.S. combat ground force either in Iraq or Syria. The New York Times reported Monday that the campaign would consist of three phases – the current bombardment of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq, a forthcoming effort to build up and train Iraqi and Kurdish forces, and finally an effort destroy ISIL in what Obama has described as its "safe haven" in Syria. The Times noted that this third phase would be the "toughest and most politically controversial."

The full strategy is expected to take about three years – if not more – to carry out, which would mean Obama would not complete it before he leaves office.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.