Kerry: Obama's Anti-ISIL Strategy 'Becoming More Clear by the Day'

By Susan Jones | September 5, 2014 | 8:31 AM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks with British Prime Minister David Cameron as NATO leaders meet regarding Afghanistan at the NATO summit at Celtic Manor in Newport, Wales, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. From left are, Secretary of State John Kerry, the president, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

( - Never mind what American news reports say: President Obama is "totally committed" to dealing with ISIL -- and his strategy is "becoming more clear by the day," Secretary of State John Kerry told U.S. allies at the NATO summit in Wales on Friday.

"Contrary to what you sort of heard in the politics of our country, the President is totally committed; there is a strategy that is clear, becoming more clear by the day," Kerry said.

"And it really relies on a holistic approach to ISIL. That is to say that we need to do kinetic, we need to attack them in ways that prevent them from taking over territory, that bolster the Iraqi security forces, others in the region who are prepared to take them on, without committing troops of our own, obviously.

"I think that’s a red line for everybody here, no boots on the ground. Nevertheless, there are many ways in which we can train, advise, assist, and equip. There are kinetic operations we can run in direct support of Iraqi security forces."

Kerry said it may take a year or two or even three to destroy ISIL -- "But we're determined it has to happen."

He told the gathering that ISIL presents the U.S. and its allies with an opportunity. "And it’s an opportunity to prove that we have the ability to come together, that our capacities for defense are not so frozen in an old model that we can’t respond to something like ISIL, that we can’t pull ourselves together and effect the coalition of clearly the willing and the capable to be able to deal with ISIL."

Kerry said the effort is working. He cited the breaking of the siege on Sinjar Mountain, and breaking ISIL's momentum as it moved towards the Iraqi city of Erbil.

"These guys are not ten feet tall," Kerry said. "They're not as disciplined as everybody thinks. They’re not as organized as everybody thinks. And we have the technology, we have the know-how. What we need is obviously the willpower to make certain that we are steady and stay at this."

Kerry said there is "no contain policy" for ISIL. He compared the terrorists to a "cancer" that will return if it's not eradicated.

"So there is no issue in our minds about our determination to build this coalition, go after this."

Kerry said the coalition must go after the terrorists' financing as well as the westerners who are returning home after fighting with the Islamists.

"In addition, we need an all-military aspect. Some people will not be comfortable doing kinetic. We understand that. Or some people don’t have the capacity to do kinetic. But everybody can do something.

"People can contribute either ammunition or weapons or technical know-how or intel capacity. People can contribute advisers." He noted that the U.S. has just sent another 350 people to Iraq "in an effort to build up our adviser capacity."

"We also are building up the kinetic capacity, and that will be a clear part of this."

Kerry said it's necessary to have a plan in place by the time the United Nations General Assembly convenes in New York in September. "We need a clarity to the strategy, and a clarity to what everybody is going to undertake."