WASHINGTON (January 13, 2016) — Delivering a lasting defeat to the Islamic State in Iraq
and the Levant must be a global effort, and coalition partners and others must
step up their contributions to the escalating fight, Defense Secretary Ash
Carter said Wednesday at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Such a lasting defeat also must be
achieved and sustained by motivated and capable local forces, the secretary
said, and reach beyond the military campaign to enable political stability in
Carter’s stop at Fort Campbell to
address soldiers assigned to the 101st Airborne Division’s headquarters and 2nd
Brigade Combat Team who will deploy to Iraq later this year is part of a
two-day trip this week to three military bases.
During his speech, the defense
secretary said the lasting defeat of ISIL must be a global undertaking because
the terror group is a global threat.
“Any nation that cares about the
safety of its people or the future of its civilization must know this: America
will continue to lead the fight, but there can be no free riders,” Carter
As the United States invests in
accelerating the campaign, he said, so must every coalition partner and every
nation in a position to help.
“That means greater military
contributions but it also means greater diplomatic, political and economic
engagement. It means development and reconstruction [and] … actions at home and
abroad to disrupt, dismantle and degrade ISIL’s capabilities. It means stepping
up,” the secretary said.
Carter said he has personally
reached out to defense ministers in more than 40 countries seeking more special
operations forces, strike and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions,
training assistance and combat and combat service support.
“Many nations are already
contributing greatly,” he said. “Many can do more.”
Such contributions could include
accelerating their own efforts to disrupt networks that enable the flow of
foreign fighters and materials through their lands, Carter said, and taking
advantage of the opportunity to fight ISIL in Syria and Iraq before it becomes
a more serious threat.
“For Muslim-majority nations in
particular,” the secretary added, “that means stepping forward and debunking
ISIL’s false claims to religious or ideological excuses for brutality.”
He added, “I have seen the strength
of our coalition, and our success depends on building on that strength.”
Carter said that next week he will
meet with defense ministers from six nations that play a large role in the
ground and air components of the counter-ISIL campaign -- France, Australia,
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
“Each of these nations has a
significant stake in completing the destruction of this evil organization and
we must include all of the capabilities they can bring to the field,” he said.
Everyone in the Game
The secretary said that the effort
to defeat ISIL includes coalition forces enabling local, motivated forces with
a clear campaign plan, American leadership of the global coalition, and
capabilities ranging from airstrikes, special-forces raids, cyber tools and
intelligence to equipment, mobility and logistics, and training, advice and
assistance from those on the ground.
Beyond the military campaign in Iraq
and Syria, others must step up and meet critical challenges such as setting
conditions for sustainable political stability in the region, Carter said.
“That means everybody has to be in
the game,” he added, noting that those who are needed include diplomats and
development experts to help the Iraqi government rebuild, and restore
opportunity to Sunni regions so local people have a future worth fighting for.
Also needed, he said, are Treasury
Department financial experts to cut off the flow of money to ISIL; intelligence
agencies to help map ISIL’s networks, leadership and infrastructure; and
experts from law enforcement and homeland security.
In Iraq and Syria, Carter said, the
coalition is taking ground back from the enemy and gaining openings to take
more, and denying ISIL the ability to move fighters and materiel by cutting off
key transit routes to Raqqa and Mosul.
Coalition members also are
dismantling ISIL’s war-sustaining finances, targeting its oil production and
industrial base and using new methods to hit ISIL in its wallet, Carter said.
“Throughout Iraq and Syria we are
significantly constraining its ability either to defend or to attack, and we
are working with our partners to take advantage of every opportunity this
presents,” he added.
A specialized expeditionary
targeting force announced in December is in place, preparing to work with the
Iraqis to begin going after ISIL fighters and commanders, the secretary said.
And President Barack Obama -- on the
advice of Carter, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen.
Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and U.S. Central Command Commander Army Gen. Lloyd J.
Austin III -- ordered the most elite U.S. special operations forces to Syria to
support the ISIL fight.
The threat posed by ISIL and others
continually evolves, changes focus and shifts location, most recently into
areas like North Africa, Afghanistan and Yemen, Carter said.
“That’s why the Defense Department
is organizing a new way to leverage security infrastructure we’ve already
established in Afghanistan, the Middle East, East Africa and southern Europe
into a network to counter transnational and transregional threats like ISIL,”
From the troops Carter visited in
Morón, Spain, in October, to those he visited last month in Jalalabad,
Afghanistan, the regional nodes offer a forward presence for responding to a
range of crises, the secretary said.
“This counterterrorism network is
already giving us the opportunity and capability to react swiftly to incidents
and threats wherever they occur,” Carter added, “and it maximizes our
opportunities to eliminate targets and leadership.”
The campaign to defeat ISIL is far
from over, he said, and extraordinary challenges are ahead.
The campaign will continue to adapt as, with
each success, ISIL’s territory decreases, its resources dwindle, and local,
capable forces gain the capacity to win the field of battle and lay the
foundation for lasting security in the region and a more secure future for the
world, Carter said.