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Carter Seeks Commanders’ Advice on Expanding Coalition Effort in Iraq, Syria

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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WASHINGTON, November 17, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with military commanders this morning, asking them to consider where the coalition effort in Iraq and Syria can be expanded with the help of partners, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said today.

The secretary also received an update on the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from combatant commanders and other military leaders, Cook said.

During the meeting, Carter also was updated on the situation in Syria and in Iraq, and participants discussed the tragedy in Paris and the decision by the French government to expand its counter-ISIL efforts, the press secretary added.

Galvanizing Others

“As he mentioned last night at the Wall Street Journal CEO Council, the secretary hopes this tragedy will galvanize others to do even more as well,” Cook said.

Also this morning, Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. met with Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif of Pakistan to discuss mutual security interests, Cook said.

Topics included security cooperation between the United States and Pakistan, Pakistani counterterrorism operations in the country’s federally administered tribal areas, and regional security dynamics, he added.

Security Cooperation

“The secretary expressed his appreciation for Pakistan's ongoing counterterrorism efforts and condolences for the heavy losses incurred by Pakistani security forces and civilians in this fight,” the press secretary said, adding that Carter underscored the importance of increased Pakistan-Afghanistan cooperation.

Also this morning, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work toured the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial with Sharif, and the chairman held a separate discussion with the general, Cook said.

Later today, Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command, will meet with Sharif, he said.

DoD Reforms

This afternoon, Carter will attend a meeting with current and former military leaders and independent experts to discuss possible Defense Department reforms, Cook said, one in a series of meetings being held to discuss areas of potential reform to the defense enterprise in the spirit of the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986.

The legislation was enacted to reorganize the department and strengthen civilian authority, improve military advice given to the president, the National Security Council and the defense secretary, and to place clear responsibility on commanders of the unified and specified combatant commands for accomplishing missions assigned, among other things.

The meetings will examine potential redundancies in areas where performance could be streamlined or improved, and help set the department's reform agenda and determine the path forward to ensure our continued strength, the press secretary said.

Force of the Future

Tomorrow at 2 p.m., Cook added, Carter will discuss his Force of the Future initiative at George Washington University.

During his remarks there, according to a DoD statement issued yesterday, Carter will announce the first phase of personnel reforms in the initiative, which will consist of multiple elements, each with creative and modern proposals designed to help recruit and retain the best men and women the nation has to offer.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)