By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2015 – The battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is not a U.S. war, it is a large international effort to defeat a crazed and barbaric ideology, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said here today.
ISIL burned a captured Jordanian pilot alive in January. Kirby condemned the murder, and said it in no way will stop the effort against the terrorists. “We know that they have the ability to continue to generate young men that are attracted to this group and this ideology, and that's going to be a long-term problem,” he said during a Pentagon news conference.
“It’s going to take a while to get at the ideology, which is the real center of gravity here,” the admiral said. “You’re not going to do that through bombs and airstrikes. That doesn't mean the bombs and airstrikes aren’t going to keep happening. They are.”
A Coalition of 60
Kirby disputed allegations that the war against ISIL is a U.S. war. “I think a coalition of 60 nations proves that it’s not,” he said. “We’re not the only ones involved in this in trying to get rid of this group.”
U.S. air strikes on the group continue to be effective, he said. As indigenous forces become more capable, the attrition will continue. Still, ISIL is capable of bringing more people to the fight. “We are going to stay committed to this for the long-term, and it is going to be a long-term fight,” the admiral said.
Judging the coalition effectiveness against the group is difficult. “A better judgment of the strength of this group is their behavior,” he said. “So, we’ve seen them change the way they operate on the ground. They are hiding more. We've seen them not travel around in convoys. …They are not as agile as they once were. We know that they’ve lost literally hundreds and hundreds of vehicles that they can’t replace.”
Coalition strikes have also worked to hit the group’s main source of income – oil. “We assess that it’s no longer the main source of revenue,” Kirby said.
ISIL is largely in a defense posture now. The group launched a small offensive against Kirkuk over the weekend and it lasted a day, Kirby said. They took no new ground. “And they're not on Kobani anymore,” the admiral said. “They are losing ground.”
The group is worried about lines of communications and supply now. “This is a different group than it was seven months ago,” he said. “I’m not saying they are not still dangerous. I'm not saying they are not still barbaric, but they are different. Their character, their conduct, their behavior is different. And that is a sign of progress.”