President Obama during a visit to the Pentagon on Monday touted a hike in the number of airstrikes the U.S. and its allies are using against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“We are hitting ISIL harder than ever,” Obama, using another term for the terrorist group, said during a trip to the Pentagon, where he met with top national security officials and military brass.
“ISIL leaders cannot hide, and our message to them is simple: You are next,” Obama said.
The tough talk from Obama and his visit to the Pentagon comes during a challenging time for his national security policy.
Terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., that were carried out by or inspired by ISIS have raised new fears about the group’s efforts to create mayhem. They have also raised new doubts about Obama’s foreign policy, according to polls.
Obama’s visit to the Pentagon is a follow-up to an Oval Office address he made a week ago in which he sought to reassure the public about his administration’s response to ISIS. The address was panned by critics, who said the president did not do enough to assuage Americans’ concerns about the threat posed by ISIS.
The trip also comes ahead of Obama’s planned vacation to Hawaii, the home state he has visited on an annual basis at Christmas.
Obama, flanked at the Pentagon podium by the Vice President Biden and Defense Sec. Ash Carter, said U.S. forces and partners on the ground will continue to focus on taking away territory from ISIS.
The Republican National Committee blasted out a statement after the meeting calling it a "politically motivated photo-op."
"We need a new strategy to defeat ISIS and keep America safe from radical Islamic terrorists, not a new public relations campaign to protect President Obama and Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers," RNC spokesman Michael Short said in an email.
On Thursday, the president will make a stop at the National Counterterrorism Center to receive a briefing on the government’s efforts to thwart terror plots against the U.S. before the holidays.