WASHINGTON (Feb. 5, 2016) — The Saudi Arabian government has indicated its willingness
to do more with the coalition in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday at Nellis Air Force
Base in Nevada.
Speaking with reporters after
addressing airmen at the Air Force installation, Carter said he looks forward
to discussing contributions to the accelerated anti-ISIL fight with the Saudis
and 25 other nations next week in Brussels.
“The United States has very much
indicated our desire to accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIL, [and] we'll do
that better, and it'll be easier to sustain the defeat … if other countries
that are part of the coalition accelerate their efforts at the same time,”
Saudi Arabia also has said it’s
willing to take the lead in marshaling some Muslim-majority countries, he
added, noting that the local population in Syria and Iraq will sustain the
defeat of ISIL.
“The Saudis indicated that they and
other countries would be best positioned to help make those arrangements,” the
secretary said. “I think that's a very positive contribution as well.”
On other contributions, Carter said
the Dutch also have said they are willing to join in the counter-ISIL campaign
in Syria, as they have done in Iraq.
“So you see others stepping up,” he
added, “and the reason I'm going to Brussels next week is to bring the full
weight of the coalition behind accelerating the defeat of ISIL.”
To the airmen in Nevada, Carter
previewed the Air Force portion of the fiscal year 2017 DoD budget proposal,
noting that the Pentagon is adding another $1 billion over the next five years
for the kind of training available at Nellis, home of the Air Force Warfare
“Nellis is incredibly important to
the Air Force, now and in the future, [and] they can expect increased
investments in the quality of the range, in the intensity of the training, the
number of exercises conducted here, the variety of aircraft that will be coming
here and will need to be maintained here,” Carter said.
“This is a critical place,” he added. “It's
going to stay a critical place, and it's going to get budgetary priority. The
key is readiness — that’s the key to the Air Force today and tomorrow.”