WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2015 —
There is no doubt the international coalition battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “will deliver a lasting defeat,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told U.S. troops during his visit to Kuwait today.
However, he added, the effort will require commitment and patience.
Carter made the comments while visiting American troops at Camp Arifjan, just before convening a conference of ambassadors and senior U.S. and regional military leaders to “begin to make my own assessment of the campaign to counter ISIL.”
He described the meeting, held on his fifth day as defense secretary, as “important to me as I formulate our own direction in this campaign.”
Buildup of Local Forces
Before the conference, Carter told troops the international campaign to defeat ISIL -- called Operation Inherent Resolve -- will first require building up local forces, which he said will ultimately have to take the lead in battle. U.S. military advisors are now training Iraqi forces with plans by the coalition to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels as well.
Carter’s comments and today’s high-level meeting on countering ISIL come just days after a U.S. Central Command official told reporters an Iraqi-led assault to recapture the country’s second-largest city, Mosul, from ISIL terrorists could begin as early as April.
“We need to be convinced that any use of our forces is necessary,” Carter said at today’s troop event, after being asked if he would recommend deploying U.S. combat troops on the front lines against ISIL.
“I want to make sure we’ve thought everything through and that we have a plan that leads to success,” the secretary added.
Carter called ISIL a threat to the region beyond Syria and Iraq.
“If we’re to have a defeat of ISIL -- which we must and will -- it needs to be a lasting defeat,” said Carter, noting that can only happen if “there are those who can take responsibility for their societies and their territory after the campaign against ISIL has rid them of this scourge.”
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