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Obama administration considering additional options in Iraq

Iraqi fighters from the Hashed al-Shaabi "popular mobilization" pose for a picture in al-Nibaie area, north-west of Baghdad, on May 27, 2015, during an operation aimed at cutting off ISIS jihadists in Anbar province before a major offensive to retake the city of Ramadi.

AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration is still working on its strategy to to stem the advance of militants with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) -- President Obama acknowledged as much on Monday.

While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering three different options, CBS News Pentagon correspondent David Martin reports.

First, the U.S. could increase the number of American trainers in Iraq, to train greater numbers of Iraqi troops. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has publicly acknowledged this option.

While ISIS has gained ground in some areas of Iraq recently, such as the key city of Ramadi, the Pentagon claims its train-and-equip program is working. As many as 8,000 Iraqi troops have been trained. The ones in the field are performing well, according to the Pentagon, although not in any of the battles that have drawn attention. Some of those 8,000 will sooner or later be used in Anbar.

The increase in American personnel in Iraq could be in the hundreds or reach up to a thousand. The issue is whether the Iraqi government can provide enough recruits for the training -- either by bringing in new recruits or by taking units away from the defense of Baghdad and sending them for training.

The next option is to train Sunni tribesmen directly, Colonel Steve Warren, Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday. This option could be seen as a reprisal of the "Sunni Awakening" of 2006 and 2007. As of now, the job of training Sunnis has been left to the Iraqi government with underwhelming results.

However, pursuing this option amounts to a vote of no-confidence in the willingness or ability of the Iraqi government to reconcile with the Sunnis. There's also some question as to whether the Sunnis would take up arms against ISIS the way they did against al Qaeda in 2006 and 2007.

The third option for the U.S. is to close off the main border cross from Turkey into Iraq. Again, Warren on Tuesday mentioned "putting pressure" on border crossing to cut off or reduce the flow of foreign fighters. The focus would fall on a road that goes through the Turkish border town of Akcakale and the Syrian city of Tel Abyad, close to the Turkish border town of Akcakale. The Turks are not shutting the road down, so the idea is to use Kurds supported by American air strikes to take control of the Syrian side of the crossing, much in the way the Kurds took control of Kobani.