Watch CBS News

President Obama defends his strategy against ISIS

Norah O’Donnell spoke to President Obama Wednesday at the White House about his strategies to defeat ISIS
Obama on decision to send ground troops to fight ISIS 02:29

The U.S. is intensifying its fight against ISIS as President Obama ordered the deployment of about 200 Special Operations forces to Iraq and Syria.

Speaking to "CBS This Morning" co-host Norah O'Donnell Wednesday in the White House Cabinet Room, Mr. Obama said that while he sticks to his promise of no "Iraq-style invasion," military intervention is necessary to defeat the terror group.

Pentagon orders special forces to Iraq 03:09

"What I've been very clear about is that we are going to systematically squeeze and ultimately destroy ISIL and that requires us having a military component to that," Mr. Obama said.

The president also defended the United States' current strategies, including its membership in a 65-country coalition against ISIS and local partnerships within Iraq and Syria.

"We have been able to push back ISIL from territory that we had taken, but in Iraq and Syria and we are developing partnerships - although they are not as strong as we want yet - with local tribes and Sunnis who are willing to fight ISIL," Mr. Obama said. "And what I've said is we're going to continually modify and adjust our strategy based on those things that work and those things that may not work."

The president expressed confidence that the U.S. Special Forces would add to these measures. While he admitted they could not "single-handedly destroy ISIL," he said the additional forces would offer "greater situational awareness on the ground, generate additional intelligence, work with local forces to develop smarter strategies, (and) help direct where airstrikes are going to make the most difference,"

"We're going to continue to push hard and the good news is, coming out of Paris, we're seeing countries like Germany and Great Britain that had been hesitant about getting too actively involved in Syria, realizing that they have to be part of the solution here," Mr. Obama said.

FBI steps up surveillance against potential ISIS sympathizers 02:21

With the FBI conducting active investigations into ISIS sympathizers in all 50 states and more terrorism-related arrests than in any in one year since 9/11, President Obama said there's "no doubt" that Americans have some fear that attacks like the recent ones in Paris could happen in the U.S.

Obama: ISIS wins if we react out of fear and start changing how we live 03:51

"What I try to do is to make sure that people understand the threat is real, we have to vigilant, but we also can't panic and we can't respond out of fear. We have to make sure that we keep a clear-eyed view about what needs to be done," Mr. Obama said. "ISIL is not going to pose an existential threat to us, they are a dangerous organization like al Qaeda was, but we have hardened our defenses, our homeland has never been more protected by more effective intelligence and law enforcement professionals at every level than they are now. The coordination is much better than it is now. If you look at the number of successful terrorist attacks that have occurred, you know, we have disrupted a lot of them, but the dangers are still there and so we just have to keep things in perspective"

The president said the American people should feel confident about the country's defense and go about their lives.

"I said this repeatedly overseas, ISIL only wins if we react out of fear and start changing how we live, violating our values, they can't win on the battlefield. They can kill some innocent people, but that's not a victory for them if we respond appropriately," Mr. Obama said.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.