OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Senators call for Iraq action

THE TOPLINE: President Obama on Thursday said he is considering all options, except boots on the ground, to stabilize the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

“I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria, for that matter," Obama said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Obama’s remarks came soon after members of the Senate Armed Services Committee received a classified briefing from administration officials about the latest developments in the country.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) came away from the close-door meeting advocating for airstrikes.

“There is no scenario where we can stop the bleeding in Iraq without American airpower,” Graham said after the briefing.

McCain went even further, taking to the Senate floor to demand that the president fire his entire national security team for a “colossal failure of American security policy.”

However, Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the panel’s top Republican, and other GOP lawmakers, held off in joining those calls.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an al-Qaeda affiliated militant group, has captured two major cities, Mosul and Tikrit, possibly with U.S. military gear. Meanwhile, Kurdish forces have claimed the oil-rich city of Kirkuk as Iraqi government forces pull back.

There are reports that U.S. personnel are being evacuated from the Middle East country amid the unrest.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that the ongoing crisis would not impact the administration’s plan to withdraw all military troops from Afghanistan by the close of 2016.

 

BERGDAHL COMING HOME. Army Sgt. Bowe Berghdal is right now en route to the United States.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said Bergdahl departed Ramstein Air Base in Germany this afternoon aboard a U.S military aircraft.

Bergdahl will continue his “reintegration process” at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, as early as Friday morning, according to Kirby.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

-Clinton open to staying in Afghanistan past 2016

-McConnell: Obama needs ‘capable manager’ to lead VA

-Poll: Obama has handled VA scandal poorly

-Bill would prohibit Gitmo transfers

-House passes resolution to condemn Boko Haram

 

Please send tips and comments to Kristina Wong, kwong@thehill.com, and Martin Matishak, mmatishak@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill, @kristina_wong, @martinmatishak