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Dunford: U.S. Working With Libya to Assess Possible Needs in Counter-ISIL Fight

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

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STUTTGART, Germany, May 3, 2016 — The United States is working with the interim Libyan government to see what help it might need in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford spoke at a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, shortly after Scaparrotti took command of U.S. European Command.

Dunford pointed out that the United States already conducted operations against ISIL targets in Libya.

Situation in Libya                                               

"If there is a threat against the homeland or U.S. personnel, we're going to act, and we have already in the past done that," the chairman said.

With regard to subsequent operations that might take place in Libya, that's going to be at the invitation of the interim Libyan government, known as the Government of National Accord, Dunford said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, hold a press conference at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, May 3, 2016. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, hold a press conference at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, May 3, 2016. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, hold a press conference at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, May 3, 2016. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen Change of Command
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, hold a press conference at Patch Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, May 3, 2016. DoD photo by D. Myles Cullen

He said the commander of U.S. Africa Command, Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, has already met with U.S. Ambassador Peter W. Bodde and the U.S. special envoy for Libya, Jonathan Winer.

"They'll meet with the Government of National Accord to see what requirements may exist from a security perspective and from an operations perspective," the chairman said.

"We're already working very closely with the GNA to determine what assistance they may require," he added.

The situation in Libya is of concern to Europe and the broader region as well, U.S. officials have said, because of the possible spread of terrorism, as well as the concerns over migration.

Terrorism is a concern in Europe, said Scaparrotti, noting Eucom has been "integral in supporting our partners here" to fight terrorism. Those efforts, he said, include information sharing and building partner capacity.

"We'll continue to do those things that [outgoing Eucom commander Air Force Gen. Philip M.] Breedlove and the command have done in the past, and we'll look for other ways to strengthen our partners here," Scaparrotti said.

Russian Actions

The U.S. military is continuing to make adjustments to counter Russian aggression, Carter said.

"That's the reason for the addition of an American brigade on a rotational but persistently present basis here," he said. "We are prepared every day for any kind of circumstance here in Europe.”

Improvements will continue to be made, including with the European Reassurance Initiative, which the United States is more than quadrupling funding for, Carter said.

At the change of command, Carter highlighted the European Reassurance Initiative as something that will "further reinforce our NATO allies and build our deterrence posture in the face of Russia's aggression."

The United States is taking a "strong and balanced" approach to Russia, he said.

"The United States will also continue to hold out the possibility that Russia will assume the role of a constructive partner moving forward, not isolated and going backward in time as it appears to be doing today," Carter said.

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)