The United States and the United Kingdom continue to stand together in the face of aggression by Russia and barbarism by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today in Oxford, England.
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Defense Secretary Discusses U.K.’s Global Reach
Addressing an audience at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, the secretary recalled decades of partnership by the U.S. and U.K. militaries and service members.
Most recently, he said, “We stood and responded together in the face of terrorism 15 years ago after 9/11, 11 years ago after the 7/7 bombings, fighting side by side during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. We’ve continued to do so … in the coalition military campaign plan to deliver ISIL a lasting and certain defeat.”
Because of all the two nations have done together over the past 75 years, the secretary added, the world has become more prosperous and dynamic. He said that world, though, is in a time of great change and faces several challenges.
“Today’s security environment is dramatically different from that of the last generation, and even the generation before that,” Carter said. “In this new era, the United States and the Department of Defense that I lead are contending with five immediate, major and rapidly evolving challenges.”
In Europe, the United States is standing with the United Kingdom and NATO allies to take a strong and balanced approach to deter Russian aggression, the defense secretary said.
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NATO Has New Playbook, Carter Says
The United States also is managing change in the vital Asia-Pacific region, where China is rising but behaving aggressively, Carter said, and strengthening its deterrent and defense forces in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations and threats to U.S. allies.
In the Middle East, he said, especially in and around the Persian Gulf, the United States is checking Iranian aggression and malign influence while standing with its own friends and allies in the region.
In the broader Middle East and around the world, the Defense Department is continuing to counter and defeat terrorism, Carter said, accelerating the lasting defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria and wherever it spreads.
“Thankfully the United States and its military and Defense Department do not have to respond to these challenges or underwrite global security alone. President [Barack] Obama and all Americans are heartened to know we can continue to count on our allies and alliances, and especially on the United Kingdom, to join us in meeting these challenges and defending the principled international order,” the defense secretary said.
“I’m here this week to work with my counterpart Secretary [Michael] Fallon to ensure that our countries and our militaries are ready to keep standing together and partnering together in the years ahead,” he added.
The Fight Against ISIL
Carter said the U.S. and the U.K. are leading a historic coalition to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat. We’re fighting in different ways, across all domains, to destroy both the fact and the idea of an Islamic state based on ISIL’s barbaric ideology.
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Carter: Counter-ISIL Campaign Accelerating
“As I speak to you today,” the secretary said, “we’ve entered a decisive phase in our coalition counter-ISIL military campaign. Thanks to the contributions and sacrifices of our local partners there in the region and of British, American and coalition service members, we’ve accelerated the military campaign and we have the momentum firmly on our side.”
He added, “We’re seeking this year to put ISIL on a path to the lasting defeat it will surely suffer and richly deserves.”
Carter said a lasting defeat requires that the coalition identify and enable capable, motivated local forces, and that is the strategic approach because local forces are the only ones that can hold and govern territory after it has been retaken from ISIL.
After the Campaign
“From my first conversations with Secretary Fallon, we resolved to accelerate our campaign. We set in motion a series of deliberate steps to gather momentum and put ISIL [on a path to] lasting defeat,” the defense secretary said, adding that they mobilized the coalition to step up contributions to the fight -- the United States, the United Kingdom and every other coalition member.
“And we made it clear that there will be no free riders in this campaign,” he added. “When the war is over and the coalition prevails -- which I am certain it will -- the United States will not forget that the United Kingdom stood with us. And collectively we will remember who failed to show up for the fight.”
Even when the coalition wins the fight against ISIL there will still be much more to do, Carter said.
“We must ensure that when that time comes, the Iraqi and the Syrian people have what they need to hold, stabilize and govern their own territory and win back decent lives for themselves,” he said.
“So our coalition’s development and diplomatic institutions must … make the plans and preparations to keep a lasting peace, once our militaries and our partner forces have delivered that defeat,” the secretary added.
(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)