WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Thursday about how the U.S. will respond to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.
The president emphasized that "American forces will not return to Iraq but we will take the fight to the terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, the region and American interests as well."
After consulting with the National Security Council, the president laid out a five-part action plan:
1) Ensuring the security of the U.S. embassy and consulate personnel in Iraq.
2) "Significantly increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to give us a greater understanding of what ISIL [aka ISIS] is doing, where it's located and how we might support efforts to counter this threat."
3) Support to the Iraqi security forces. This may include: the creation of "joint operation centers in Baghdad and northern Iraq to share intelligence and coordinate planning to confront the terrorist threat of ISIL;" additional military equipment to the Iraqi forces; and sending up to 300 military advisers to provide assessments to the Iraqi government, including how to protect Baghdad's perimeter.
4) Pre-positioned military assets in the region. "If and when the situation requires," the U.S. is prepared to take "targeted and precise military action." Such action, the president said, would be taken in consultation with the U.S. Congress and Iraqi leaders.
5) Diplomatic outreach. "Finally, the U.S. will take diplomatic efforts to work with Iraqi leaders and leaders in the region to support stability in Iraq." U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will depart soon to conduct those meetings, reminding regional leaders that a sovereign and stable Iraq is in everyone's best interest.
When asked whether his plan was a prelude to boots on the ground, the president reiterated that "American troops are not going to be fighting in Iraq again."
"Ultimately," the president said, "this is something that is going to have to be solved by the Iraqis."
In Obama's view, the power to stop the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria "involves partnerships where local forces take the lead."
He encouraged Iraq's government to form an inclusive government. With election results recently finalized, the president urged Iraq to form a new parliament as soon as possible.
"Shia, Sunni, Kurds -- all Iraqis -- must have confidence they can advance their interests and aspirations through the political process and not through violence."