NEWS | Feb. 11, 2016

Carter: Meeting of defense ministers marks new stage in ISIL fight


WASHINGTON (February 11, 2016) — The first face-to-face meeting of defense ministers from nations contributing to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant marks the beginning of a new stage in that campaign, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in Brussels today.

Speaking just before the meeting, Carter said the fight to defeat ISIL is a matter of critical importance for all and each contribution matters.

“Within this coalition and ministerial today we are united by a common determination and responsibility to ensure ISIL’s lasting defeat,” he said, adding, “ISIL must be defeated. It will be defeated.”

Accelerating Efforts

Carter described President Barack Obama’s charge to U.S. forces to accelerate their efforts and U.S. leadership in the campaign against ISIL.

“We’re looking for opportunities to do even more,” the defense secretary said, “but the campaign will go even faster if all of the nations in this room do more, too.”

Carter said he would present the proposed coalition military campaign plan during the meeting and identify specific requirements and capabilities, and then all would engage in a frank discussion about those capabilities.

The Way Forward

He said the campaign plan outlines the way forward, and the resources and the capabilities needed to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat.

“In Iraq and Syria it focuses importantly on the two cities of Mosul and Raqqa, and recapturing them and demonstrating to the people there and everywhere in the world that there cannot be a state based upon the ideology of ISIL,” he said.

It also addresses ISIL’s spread to other parts of the world and to the defense of the citizens in the homeland of each coalition country, the defense secretary said.

“I welcome your insights and your support on the campaign plan to ensure that we execute this plan effectively and that we execute it with urgency,” Carter said.

Immediate Needs

After highlighting opportunities to accelerate the fight and discussing needed capabilities, Carter said the discussion should address how the coalition can meet specific and immediate needs to accelerate the campaign and provide more effective support for partners on the ground.

“In the coming weeks there will be several opportunities to discuss and evaluate and make more specific your contributions and how well we are implementing our renewed commitments,” he said.

By then, at the latest, the defense secretary said, “we should begin to see tangible gains from those additional capabilities, from the ones that the coalition is already bringing to bear.”

Carter said the meeting would end with a discussion on countering ISIL’s movement to other countries, including Libya.