The U.S. Military is on a mission to manage expectations regarding the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. military operations against Islamic State, gave an update at the Pentagon about the military campaign in Iraq, and emphasized that while U.S. forces have made gains against Islamic State militants, we still have a long way to go.

From AP’s Big Story:

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin said he believes the Iraqi government will successfully enlist the support of Sunni tribal leaders in Anbar province to turn the tide in that important region, where the militants have made recent gains.

And he said he sees no imminent threat to the international airport west of Baghdad, where U.S. Apache helicopters are monitoring IS efforts to make inroads on the capital.

“The campaign to destroy ISIL will take time and there will be occasional setbacks along the way,” Austin told a Pentagon news conference, using another acronym for the Islamic State group, “and particularly in these early stages of the campaign as we coach and mentor a force that is actively working to regenerate capability after years of neglect and poor leadership.”

I recently wrote a rather frustrated article about the actions of the Obama administration in conjunction with our mission in northern Iraq; the optics surrounding this administration are embarrassing on an international level, which is why I believe that it’s a smart move for the military to temper expectations while emphasizing plans and progress.

Since early September, we have heard murmurs from the rank and file complaining about the mixed messages they were receiving with regards to both tone and strategy. We also know that Obama chose to ignorethe best militaryadvice of General Austin and CENTCOM because he didn’t want to put ground troops on the front line.

At around the same time, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey testified before a Senate panel that we could get to a point where boots on the ground is our only option.

Now, we’re stuck with the reality of armed conflict in an already volatile region, and the American people generally have no clue what the White House is thinking. General Austin’s reality is coalition-building, slow progress, and the repair and rebuilding of Iraqi resistance forces, and it should give the American people confidence that he’s willing to admit that we’re not yet fulfilling Vice President Biden’s fever dream of following ISIS “to the gates of Hell.”

The AP reports that U.S. troops have helped local forces start an attack toward Beiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The refinery (and many others in the country) is currently under ISIS control, and a strike on the factory and surrounding area will mean a blow not only to the size of the insurgent presence, but to their source of funding and power over countries like Turkey.

It may not be “shock and awe,” but at least we have a fairly honest idea of what we’re up against, and what it will take to finish the job.