A top White House official urged patience regarding U.S. and international efforts to combat Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East.

National security adviser Susan RiceSusan RiceDavid Sirota calls Susan Rice stock divestment 'corruption deduction' White House memo urges cities to use coronavirus funds to combat crime Voting rights advocates eager for Biden to use bully pulpit MORE emphasized Sunday that the U.S. will not be placing ground troops in the region to combat the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS), and prepared the public for a lengthy effort.

While ISIS troops appear to be gaining ground in the region, Rice said that is not a reason yet to doubt the U.S. approach.


“This is going to take time,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “There are going to be good days, bad days, victories and setbacks.”

Rice said that while some Republicans are open to placing ground troops in the region to assist the effort, such a move would be ineffective and is not on the table.

“This is not a campaign that requires or would even benefit from American ground troops in combat again,” she said.

Rather, Rice said the focus of the effort has to be on building up the capacity of Iraqi troops and Syrian moderates that are fighting against ISIS in their home countries. Rice said the might of the Iraqi army had “atrophied” under former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and that it will take time to get them back into a position to effectively defend the region.

“Our aim here is long-term degradation and building the capacity of our partners,” she said. “This is the very early days of the strategy.”

On North Korea, Rice struck a tempered tone on a potential leadership shake-up there. Kim Jong Un, the leader of the country, has not been seen in public for over a month and has missed several events. His absence has led to chatter that there may be a change in leadership afoot. But Rice said the U.S. has not yet seen evidence that that is the case.

“We have not seen any indications of a transfer of power at this point in North Korea that we view as definitive,” she said.