WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2016 —
The Saudi Arabian government has indicated its willingness to do more with the coalition in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada.
Speaking with reporters after addressing airmen at the Air Force installation, Carter said he looks forward to discussing contributions to the accelerated anti-ISIL fight with the Saudis and 25 other nations next week in Brussels.
“The United States has very much indicated our desire to accelerate the campaign to defeat ISIL, [and] we'll do that better, and it'll be easier to sustain the defeat … if other countries that are part of the coalition accelerate their efforts at the same time,” Carter said.
Saudi Arabia also has said it’s willing to take the lead in marshaling some Muslim-majority countries, he added, noting that the local population in Syria and Iraq will sustain the defeat of ISIL.
“The Saudis indicated that they and other countries would be best positioned to help make those arrangements,” the secretary said. “I think that's a very positive contribution as well.”
On other contributions, Carter said the Dutch also have said they are willing to join in the counter-ISIL campaign in Syria, as they have done in Iraq.
“So you see others stepping up,” he added, “and the reason I'm going to Brussels next week is to bring the full weight of the coalition behind accelerating the defeat of ISIL.”
To the airmen in Nevada, Carter previewed the Air Force portion of the fiscal year 2017 DoD budget proposal, noting that the Pentagon is adding another $1 billion over the next five years for the kind of training available at Nellis, home of the Air Force Warfare Center.
“Nellis is incredibly important to the Air Force, now and in the future, [and] they can expect increased investments in the quality of the range, in the intensity of the training, the number of exercises conducted here, the variety of aircraft that will be coming here and will need to be maintained here,” Carter said.
“This is a critical place,” he added. “It's going to stay a critical place, and it's going to get budgetary priority. The key is readiness -- that’s the key to the Air Force today and tomorrow.”
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)