U.S. special forces will not aid Iraqis fighting ISIS in Ramadi

Washington CNN —  

The White House says it is now actively looking at how to support an “Iraqi-led operation to retake Ramadi,” including “accelerating the training and equipping of local tribes.”

President Barack Obama met with the National Security Council Tuesday after ISIS, also known as ISIL, seized the key Iraqi city this weekend.

However, National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said that “there is no formal strategy review” underway, rather that the U.S. is continuing its policy to “degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

And U.S. military commanders do not plan to ask Obama for authority to deploy special forces on the ground in or near Ramadi to help Iraqi forces locate ISIS targets, a Pentagon official told CNN on Tuesday.

Although there is always a possibility that decision could change, the official said top military commanders “don’t feel it’s necessary.”

The U.S. expects Iraq to deploy its forces, as well as Shiite militias and Sunni tribes under its control to fight to take Ramadi back.

RELATED: Fresh from Ramadi conquest, ISIS pushes east

The White House says it will support the Popular Mobilization Forces – comprised of Shiite militias and volunteers, along with Sunni fighters from Anbar – as long as they’re operating under the command and control of the central Iraqi government.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Lloyd Austin, commanding general of Central Command, have long said they would ask Obama for that authority if they felt Iraqi forces were in such a complex battle in an urban environment that they needed U.S. units on the ground to pick out targets to help avoid civilian casualties.

For now, the U.S. plans to stick with airstrikes when ISIS targets can be clearly identified, as well as its ongoing work to train Iraqi units.

Aside from that support, the White House isn’t previewing a new strategy in combating ISIS, saying only it’s constantly evaluating what’s working and what’s not.

“We have to decide what our approach to these issues is going to be,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said during his daily press briefing.

“Are we going to light our hair on fire every time there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL?” he said, referring to ISIS by another name. “Or are we going to take very seriously our responsibility to evaluate those areas where we succeed and evaluate where steps are necessary to change our strategy where we’ve seen setbacks?”

Some Republicans, however, are criticizing the White House for doing far less than what they believe is needed to repel ISIS.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, charged that “We’re not doing enough of anything.”

He called for a “total reevaluation of our abysmal failure and the consequences of it.”

CNN’s Athena Jones contributed to this report.