Following President Obama's speech on combating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Wednesday, media outlets such as Vice News and the Daily Beast published headlines claiming that once again, the U.S. was going back to war. But Secretary of State John Kerry disagrees. He told CNN that the administration's plan to combat ISIS includes "many different things that one doesn't think of normally in context of war."
"What we are doing is engaging in a very significant counterterrorism operation," Kerry said. "It's going to go on for some period of time. If somebody wants to think about it as being a war with ISIL, they can do so, but the fact is it's a major counterterrorism operation that will have many different moving parts."
Obama also outlined the fight against ISIS as part of a great counterterrorism strategy that would include the help of international allies, some of which, Obama said, are already helping the U.S. in Iraq. The U.S. has conducted more than 150 airstrikes on the Sunni militant group formerly known as ISIS or ISIL in Iraq, especially near Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
In his speech, Obama said he would send an additional 475 service members to Iraq to help the Iraqi and Kurdish militaries fight Islamic State by providing equipment and intel. Obama promised that the mission in Iraq, and the one that will soon launch in Syria, will not include U.S. military boots on the ground.
"I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil," Obama said. "As I have said before, these American forces will not have a combat mission -- we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq."