WASHINGTON (May 4, 2016) —
Defense ministers who represent core countries contributing to the
fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant all agreed that
they will continue to do more to accelerate ISIL's lasting
defeat, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday in Stuttgart, Germany,
after the group’s second meeting.
The ministers, who first met Jan. 20 in Paris, represented
Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New
Zealand, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
“There was common recognition around the table that we all must
be prepared to do more as we work with local, motivated and capable
partners in Iraq and Syria,” Carter said. “That’s our strategic approach
-- to implement the next plays of the coalition's military campaign.”
Actions Now in Play
Carter said actions now in play include stabilizing Iraq's
Anbar province; generating Iraqi security forces, including peshmerga
forces in the north, by training, equipping and positioning them;
enveloping the city of Mosul; identifying and developing more local
forces in Syria that can isolate and pressure the nominal ISIL capital
of Raqqa; and providing more firepower, sustainment and logistics
support to partners so they can collapse ISIL control over both cities.
“The United States … is already taking a number of key actions
in Iraq and Syria to enable these next plays,” Carter said. Many of
these I announced last week after [President Barack Obama’s] approval of
In Iraq, the United States is placing advisors with Iraqi
forces at brigade and battalion levels to enhance decision-making and
responsiveness, leveraging Apache attack helicopters to support Iraqi
efforts to envelop and retake Mosul, sending more rocket-artillery
systems to support the Iraqi ground offensive, and providing $415
million to the peshmerga, one of the most effective fighting forces
against ISIL, the secretary said.
“To do all this,” he added, “we're going to adjust how to use
U.S. forces in Iraq and immediately bring in about 215 more of them.”
In Syria, the Defense Department increased U.S. forces from 50
to 300, using the extra 250 personnel, including special operations
forces, to help expand ongoing efforts to identify, train and equip
capable, motivated, local anti-ISIL forces there, especially among the
Sunni Arab community, Carter said. And U.S. special operations forces
will be able to incorporate partner special operations forces from other
countries to augment coalition counter-ISIL efforts there, he added.
During the meeting in Stuttgart, the ministers began
by discussing the situation on the ground in Iraq and confirmed the
importance of an accelerated push to ultimately retake Mosul, the
“We all recognized the need for economic and political, as well
as military contributions, because much still hinges on nonmilitary
aspects of countering ISIL,” he said. “Support for stabilization,
multisectarian governance and reconstruction all will be critical to
ensuring that ISIL stays defeated after it is defeated in Iraq.”
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian led a discussion of
the state of the campaign in Syria. The ministers reviewed recent
operational gains by local coalition-supported forces and discussed the
importance of closing off the Manbij area to ISIL, given the flow of
foreign fighters there and the potential for external plots against
coalition members and nations, Carter said.
The ministers also discussed more resources needed to support
coalition partners in the next steps of the campaign in logistics,
trainers, ammunition, special operations forces, sustainment and medical
supplies, spare parts for Iraqi equipment and support for stabilization
efforts as the campaign frees territory from ISIL control.
“I’m confident,” Carter said, “that today's meeting will accordingly produce additional military commitments.”
The fight is far from over, and great risks remain, he added.
“We were reminded of this yesterday when an American service
member, Petty Officer 1st Class Charles Keating, a Navy SEAL, was killed
while providing advice and assistance for the peshmerga forces north of
Mosul who were directly in the fight,” the secretary said.
“We greatly regret his loss, Carter added, “but allowing ISIL safe haven would carry greater risk for us all.”
Carter said the ministers agreed to meet again this summer in
Washington, along with their counterparts from other partners in the
“That will allow these discussions to continue and widen,” the
secretary added, “with all the other partners -- for example the Gulf
partners, with whom I had discussions two weeks ago in Riyadh in advance
of the president's summit there. Together, we will -- we must --
deliver ISIL a lasting defeat.”