Defense chiefs from 22 nations met at air base outside Washington
President Obama joined the group for the private meeting
Emerging from a closed meeting with the heads of foreign militaries, President Obama told reporters the effort to dismantle the terror group ISIS “is going to be a long-term campaign. “
“There will be days of progress and there are going to be periods of setback,” he said, adding that an influx of fighters from outside the region joining ISIS makes it a threat beyond the Middle East and into the U.S.
Defense chiefs from 22 nations fighting ISIS met all day at a secure facility to discuss the current military operations and “the way ahead’ according to a senior U.S. military official.
The full coalition will be needed, according to Obama.
“We are going to have to pay attention to how all the countries in the region begin to cooperate in rooting out this cancer and we are going to have to continue on delivering the humanitarian assistance of all the populations that have been affected.”
The meeting Tuesday was chaired by General Martin Dempsey, U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, along with General Lloyd Austin, commanding general of the U.S. Central Command which is largely running the operations in both Iraq and Syria.
President Obama attended for a portion near the end of the day at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington, DC. Iraqi military officials were expected to attend. Syrian opposition members were not invited because the meeting is for “sovereign nations” only, the official said. Classified discussions are expected to take place on the current operations. There was expected, however, to be some discussion of arming and training moderate Syrian opposition forces.
It was not expected that the coalition defense chiefs would discuss some significant change in strategy, the official said before the meetings got underway. “This meeting is to share our vision, discuss coordination and our common understanding of the way ahead.”
The defense chiefs are not policymakers, so any significant changes in the mission would require a decision by governments on a political level.
This is the fourth such meeting of coalition partners, but the largest gathering to date. Similar meetings have been held in recent months in Jordan, Paris and Bonn.
The military operation against ISIS now does have a name but the Pentagon is not expected to reveal it until later this week, a U.S. military official confirms to CNN. The name will not be made public until a formal ‘execution order’ covering the entire mission against ISIS is published by the Defense Department’s Joint Staff perhaps as soon as Wednesday.
Naming the operation is a fairly bureaucratic matter, but it is typically done in large scale or significant military operations as a means of providing a mechanism for everything from budgeting of funds to awarding of medals. The execution order will spell out these details, as well as potential command arrangements, and a formal military definition of the mission.