WASHINGTON (Feb. 16, 2016) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter was gratified that so many
nations accepted his challenge and vowed to step up contributions to accelerate
defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant at last week’s first meeting
of defense ministers from the counter-ISIL coalition, Pentagon Press Secretary
Peter Cook told reporters this morning.
During a Pentagon news conference,
Cook called the coalition nations’ support at the meeting in Brussels
“overwhelming” and emphasized that the added resources will help to accelerate
“We're already seeing some of those
commitments put into action,” Cook said. “I can confirm the Saudis renewed
their participation in airstrikes in the last few days.”
The specifics of the capabilities
Saudi Arabia can bring to the accelerated counter-ISIL campaign will be
discussed with coalition partners, he said.
Cook said Carter firmly believes the
Saudis and other nations could, for example, contribute by sending in special
operations forces to do similar tasks as U.S. special operators, such as
monitoring ground operations in Syria and helping to enable local forces.
Russia’s Campaign Role
Citing the importance of Russian
cooperation in the counter-ISIL campaign, Cook urged Russia to consider the
best policy path and move away from supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad.
“They have said their fight is with
ISIL,” he said. “We'd like to see them change course, direction and refocus
Enduring NATO Commitment Solidified
Carter also met with NATO’s defense
ministers last week. The partners reaffirmed their enduring commitment to the
alliance and the U.S. transition from reassurance to deterrence, Cook told
Support for the U.S. decision to invest $3.4
billion in the European Reassurance Initiative, which quadrupled spending, was
well received by NATO allies, Cook said. “It is a tangible example of the new
playbook the secretary has been talking about since last June,” he added.