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Obama Asks Congress to Authorize Three-Year ISIS Fight
By PETER BAKER
President Obama formally asked Congress on Wednesday to authorize a three-year military campaign against the Islamic State that would avoid a large-scale invasion and occupation. The offensive could include limited ground operations to hunt down enemy leaders or rescue American personnel from the Sunni militants.
A proposal sent by the White House to Capitol Hill on Wednesday would formally give the president the power to continue the airstrikes he has been conducting since last fall against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, as well as “associated persons or forces.” The measure would set limits that were never imposed during the wars of the last decade in Afghanistan and Iraq by expiring in three years and withholding permission for “enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
“I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” Mr. Obama said in a televised statement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Wednesday afternoon. He added that the three-year time frame was not a timetable announcing how long the mission would last. “What it is saying is that Congress should revisit the issue at the beginning of the next president’s term.”
But in a letter to Congress accompanying the proposal and in his televised comments, Mr. Obama, who has said there would be no boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria, envisioned limited ground combat operations “such as rescue operations” or the use of “Special Operations forces to take military action against ISIL leadership.”
He also said the legislation would allow the use of ground forces for intelligence gathering, target spotting and planning assistance to ground troops of allies like Iraq.
“If we had actionable intelligence about ISIL leaders and our partners didn’t have the capacity to get there, I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorist to have a safe haven,” Mr. Obama said in his statement.