Obama to outline strategy on Islamic State Wednesday

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Obama to outline strategy on Islamic State Wednesday
President Barack Obama, right, meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office of the White House, on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2015, in Washington. The meeting comes after Jordanian Air Force pilot First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh was executed by the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Obama's National Prayer Breakfast speech Thursday was criticized after he compared the actions of ISIS to slavery in the U.S. and the Crusades.
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, after a US-led coalition strike as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar in the Sanliurfa province on October 15, 2014. US-led aircraft will continue bombing near the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab (Kobane) and in western Iraq, President Barack Obama said after talks with military leaders from an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks about the report of a video released by the Islamic State depicting the killing of a Jordanian fighter pilot, during an unrelated meeting with Americans who say they have benefited from the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as 'Obamacare,' in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 3, 2015. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, after a US-led coalition strike as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar in the Sanliurfa province on October 15, 2014. US-led aircraft will continue bombing near the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab (Kobane) and in western Iraq, President Barack Obama said after talks with military leaders from an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) testifies beside Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey (R), during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Obama administration's strategy and military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, United States on November 13, 2014. (Photo by Erkan Avci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey testifies beside US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (not seen), during the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Obama administration's strategy and military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), at Capitol Hill in Washington DC, United States on November 13, 2014. (Photo by Erkan Avci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, after a US-led coalition strike as seen from the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar in the Sanliurfa province on October 15, 2014. US-led aircraft will continue bombing near the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab (Kobane) and in western Iraq, President Barack Obama said after talks with military leaders from an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama chairs a special meeting of the UN security council during the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2014 in New York. Obama pitched an international counterterrorism resolution during his second appearance as chair of the United Nations Security Council. The president called on nations to stop the flow of foreign fighters to groups such as the Islamic State (IS) group, according to administration officials. AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama arrives with Secretary of State John Kerry (rear) to chair a special meeting of the UN security council during the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly on September 24, 2014 in New York. Obama on Wednesday led the UN Security Council in unanimously approving a binding resolution on stemming the flow of foreign jihadists to Iraq and Syria. The resolution requires all countries to adopt laws that would make it a serious crime for their nationals to join jihadist groups such as Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front. AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers a prime time address from the Cross Hall of the White House on September 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Vowing to target the Islamic State with air strikes 'wherever they exist', Obama pledged to lead a broad coalition to fight IS and work with 'partner forces' on the ground in Syria and Iraq. AFP PHOTO/POOL/Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State John Kerry looks out over Baghdad from a helicopter on September 10, 2014. Kerry flew into Iraq today for talks with its new leaders on their role in a long-awaited new strategy against Islamic State jihadists to be unveiled by President Barack Obama. AFP PHOTO/POOL/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
David Cameron, U.K. prime minister, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, watch as the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Red Arrows aerobatic team perform a flypast during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Newport, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Obama, after levying sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and promising decisive action against Islamic State, is working to take advantage of growing international uneasiness to rally NATO into action. Photographer: Rowan Griffiths/Pool via Bloomberg
David Cameron, U.K. prime minister, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, center, react as they talk with Traian Basescu, Romania's president, ahead of a flypast by the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Red Arrows aerobatic team during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Newport, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Obama, after levying sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and promising decisive action against Islamic State, is working to take advantage of growing international uneasiness to rally NATO into action. Photographer: Rowan Griffiths/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama pauses during a televised address at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Obama pledged a relentless campaign to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, with Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan playing crucial supporting roles. Photographer: Saul Loeb/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a televised address at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Obama pledged a relentless campaign to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, with Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan playing crucial supporting roles. Photographer: Saul Loeb/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama leaves after speaking during a televised address at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014. Obama pledged a relentless campaign to destroy Islamic State extremists in Iraq and Syria, with Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan playing crucial supporting roles. Photographer: Saul Loeb/Pool via Bloomberg
David Cameron, U.K. prime minister, left, reacts as he talks with U.S. President Barack Obama, ahead of a flypast by the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Red Arrows aerobatic team during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Newport, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Obama, after levying sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and promising decisive action against Islamic State, is working to take advantage of growing international uneasiness to rally NATO into action. Photographer: Rowan Griffiths/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama, waits ahead of a flypast by the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Red Arrows aerobatic team during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Newport, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Obama, after levying sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and promising decisive action against Islamic State, is working to take advantage of growing international uneasiness to rally NATO into action. Photographer: Rowan Griffiths/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama, waits ahead of a flypast by the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Red Arrows aerobatic team during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Newport, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Obama, after levying sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and promising decisive action against Islamic State, is working to take advantage of growing international uneasiness to rally NATO into action. Photographer: Rowan Griffiths/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Barack Obama speaks at a press conference on the second day of the NATO 2014 Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales, on September 5, 2014. The United States urged Western allies at a NATO summit Friday to unite in a coalition that could 'destroy' Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama speaks in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
John and Diane Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
US President Barack Obama makes a statement at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on August 20, 2014. The United States has carried out more air strikes in Iraq, a senior US defense official said, as Islamic militants threaten to execute a second US journalist. AFP PHOTO/Nicholas KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston. A video by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
FILE - In this May 27, 2011 file photo, American journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., who was last seen on Nov. 22 2012 in northwest Syria, poses for a photo in Boston. Foley's family plans to mark his 40th birthday with a plea for his safe return. His parents, John and Diane Foley, will lead a prayer vigil Friday evening, Oct. 17, 2013 at a church in Rochester. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Parents of kidnapped journalist James Foley, Diane Foley and John Foley appear on NBC News' 'Today' show -- (Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama gestures during a press conference on the second day of the NATO 2014 Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales, on September 5, 2014. The United States urged Western allies at a NATO summit Friday to unite in a coalition that could 'destroy' Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
David Cameron, U.K. prime minister, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, watch as the British Royal Air Force's (RAF) Red Arrows aerobatic team perform a flypast during the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Newport, U.K., on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Obama, after levying sharp criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin and promising decisive action against Islamic State, is working to take advantage of growing international uneasiness to rally NATO into action. Photographer: Rowan Griffiths/Pool via Bloomberg
US President Barack Obama (R) shakes hands with Jordan's King Abdullah II prior to a meeting on the first day of the NATO 2014 summit at the Celtic Manor Hotel in Newport, South Wales, on September 4, 2014. The NATO summit billed as the most important since the Cold War got underway with calls to stand up to Russia over Ukraine and confront Islamic State extremists. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
British Prime Minister David Cameron (R), US President Barack Obama (2nd R) and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (3rd R) bow their heads during a moment of silence for killed service members in Afghanistan at the start of a meeting on Afghanistan during the NATO 2014 summit at the Celtic Manor Hotel in Newport, South Wales, on September 4, 2014. The NATO summit billed as the most important since the Cold War got underway with calls to stand up to Russia over Ukraine and confront Islamic State extremists. AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) meets with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (C) as Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron looks on at the NATO 2014 summit at the Celtic Manor Hotel in Newport, South Wales, on September 4, 2014. A NATO summit billed as the most important since the Cold War got underway with calls to stand up to Russia over Ukraine and confront Islamic State extremists. AFP PHOTO/POOL/PETER MACDIARMID (Photo credit should read PETER MACDIARMID/AFP/Getty Images)
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BY TOM RAUM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama plans to begin laying out his strategy for defeating Islamic State militants expanding their grip in Iraq and Syria.

He'll outline his evolving tactics when he meets with congressional leaders from both parties at the White House on Tuesday and then delivers a speech Wednesday on the eve of the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Lawmakers said in advance that they would like the president to give specifics.

The president should target command and control centers and oil refineries controlled by insurgents within Syria, suggested Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sits on both the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Relations Committees.

Rubio, claiming that Obama has committed "presidential malpractice in his foreign policy," said he is eager to hear directly what Obama "should have said months, weeks ago."

"First, clearly explain to the American people what our national security interests are in the region" and spell out the risk that Islamic State militants pose "for us, short-term and long-term, and why they matter," Rubio said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"Clearly, he's put together a coalition of the willing - we have heard that before - to tackle this problem," said House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. "That's good."

"And then I think he needs to engage Congress, the American people, on what exactly we're going to do here," Rogers told CNN.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on the same CNN program that Obama needs to spell out both the diplomatic and military components of his strategy.

"Time's a-wasting, because we have now said that we're going to go on the offensive. And it's time for America to project power and strength," Feinstein said.

Obama sparked criticism, most of it from Republicans, for his remark last week that "we don't have a strategy yet" for confronting Islamic extremists gaining both land and followers in the Middle East.

His upcoming sessions with lawmakers and the speech to the nation are clearly an attempt to try to show he now has an evolving strategy in place.

"The next phase is now to start going on some offense," Obama said in an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press."

"But this is not going to be an announcement about U.S. ground troops," he added in the session taped Saturday and broadcast Sunday. The operations will be "similar to the kinds of counterterrorism campaigns" the U.S. has waged in the past, Obama said. "In Syria, the boots on the ground have to be Syrian."

"I just want the American people to understand the nature of the threat and how we're going to deal with it and to have confidence that we'll be able to deal with it," Obama said in the NBC interview that followed his return from a NATO summit in Wales where the Islamic State threat was a major topic.

At that gathering, the U.S. and nine allies agreed to take on the militants because of the threat they pose to member countries.

Meanwhile, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney suggested Obama has been indecisive in dealing with the crisis in Syria as well as other foreign-policy challenges.

"I think the president is really out of touch with reality when it comes to what's happening in the world," Romney said on Fox News. "He is so out of touch with reality that he hasn't taken the action necessary to prevent very bad things from happening."

In addition to laying claim to territory, the militants have targeted religious and ethnic minority groups and threatened U.S. personnel and interests in the region.

At Obama's direction, the U.S. military has conducted more than 130 airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq in the past month. In retaliation, the group recently beheaded two American journalists it had been holding hostage in Syria, where the organization also operates.

But the president has repeated his opposition to sending in U.S. ground troops to engage in direct combat with the militants, who have laid claim to large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. Lawmakers have pressed Obama, so far unsuccessfully, to expand the airstrikes further.

President's ISIS Plan To Come Wednesday, Timetable Not Set

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