NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN, (Dec. 7, 2015) — If any
country, in the wake of the attacks in Paris, doesn’t think the Islamic
State of Iraq and the Levant is a problem, “then they are not thinking
hard enough,” Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.said today.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed the
campaign against ISIL and efforts to enhance the coalition dedicated to
defeating the terror group during an interview with reporters at the
Naval Support Activity here.
The chairman would like to see more Sunni forces dedicated to
the effort against ISIL. “My assessment is that the Sunni Arab forces
from Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf would be helpful in Iraq and
Syria,” he said. And the leaders of those nations know of this
assessment and are studying proposals, Dunford added.
“The Saudis, the [United Arab Emirates] and Bahrain are all in
Yemen and dealing with violent extremism there,” he said. “But we’d like
to see some more help particularly in Syria.”
Dunford has also sent letters to various countries around the
world that have specific capabilities needed to contribute to the fight.
“That initiative is very much alive in terms of the secretary of
defense’s outreach, my outreach,” he said. “That’s a big thing that we
are doing as we engage with our counterparts. We know what capabilities
they have, [and] we know what capabilities we can use in the campaign.
So we’ve targeted those countries, and we are asking them for support.”
There have been some initial responses that are encouraging,
but, he added, he won’t say more until those capabilities are on the
ground and contributing.
Increasing Coalition Contributions
More capabilities -- from the French, Italians, Germans and
British -- are flowing to the battle in Iraq and Syria. “We have a
number of countries we are working with right now to provide additional
special operations forces in Syria and Iraq,” Dunford said. “There are
more than 60 nations in the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL, and a
number of those nations -- particularly in the wake of Paris -- have
indicated that their contributions would increase.”
This kind of collective effort is needed to build pressure
against the terror group. “The pressure we are putting on violent
extremists around the world is necessary. Otherwise they will grow, and
their external operations capability will grow and will be a greater
threat to the American people and our interests and our allies,” he
Dunford stressed that this will not mean large formations of
western forces. The anti-ISIL campaign plan is based on getting
indigenous ground forces from the region to retake territory lost in
Syria and Iraq. In Syria, this means small numbers of special operations
forces working with credible Sunni Arab forces.
In Iraq, the coalition is supporting and training Iraqi
security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and Sunni tribes. The coalition
is providing some logistical support, equipment, advice and combined
arms support particularly aviation support and surface fires, the
Dunford emphasized that everything the United States is doing in Iraq is being done in consultation with Iraq’s government.