The President’s visit to the Pentagon Wednesday to meet with military and national security leaders does not signal any upcoming changes in the US’ strategy to combat ISIS terrorists in Iraq and Syria, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby. Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Kirby gave a blunt “no” to a question of whether the meeting could result in authorizing use of US ground forces. He was challenged repeatedly on the apparent “failure” of air strikes to have any impact on ISIS advances, particularly on the dire threat to Kobani, a Kurdish city on the Syrian-Turkish border. “They have not been a failure,” Kirby said. “There has been a positive effect of airstrikes in Iraq,” he said, noting that ISIS forces have dispersed, are hiding among the Iraqi population and are not as effective as before. “They will continue to have that effect.” But Kirby reminded reporters that he has “said from the beginning that air operations won’t solve this problem.” They have been effective for “what we’re trying to achieve,” which is to assist Iraqi and Syrian forces “to do the job on the ground.” (Kirby transcript)
The Pentagon awarded a contract worth over $2 billion for the next batch of F-35 engines to Pratt & Whitney on June 5. The deal for Lot 17 F135 engines, totaling $2.02 billion, is expected to be completed by December 2025.