By Cheryl Pellerin | DoD News, Defense Media Activity
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, left, greets NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as they meet at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Photo: DoD
The first face-to-face meeting of defense ministers from nations contributing to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant marks the beginning of a new stage in that campaign, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in Brussels Thursday.
Speaking just before the meeting, Carter said the fight to defeat ISIL is a matter of critical importance for all and each contribution matters.
“Within this coalition and ministerial today we are united by a common determination and responsibility to ensure ISIL’s lasting defeat,” he said, adding, “ISIL must be defeated. It will be defeated.”
Carter described President Barack Obama’s charge to U.S. forces to accelerate their efforts and U.S. leadership in the campaign against ISIL.
“We’re looking for opportunities to do even more,” the defense secretary said, “but the campaign will go even faster if all of the nations in this room do more, too.”
Carter said he would present the proposed coalition military campaign plan during the meeting and identify specific requirements and capabilities, and then all would engage in a frank discussion about those capabilities.
The Way Forward
He said the campaign plan outlines the way forward, and the resources and the capabilities needed to hasten ISIL’s lasting defeat.
“In Iraq and Syria it focuses importantly on the two cities of Mosul and Raqqa, and recapturing them and demonstrating to the people there and everywhere in the world that there cannot be a state based upon the ideology of ISIL,” he said.
It also addresses ISIL’s spread to other parts of the world and to the defense of the citizens in the homeland of each coalition country, the defense secretary said.
“I welcome your insights and your support on the campaign plan to ensure that we execute this plan effectively and that we execute it with urgency,” Carter said.
After highlighting opportunities to accelerate the fight and discussing needed capabilities, Carter said the discussion should address how the coalition can meet specific and immediate needs to accelerate the campaign and provide more effective support for partners on the ground.
“In the coming weeks there will be several opportunities to discuss and evaluate and make more specific your contributions and how well we are implementing our renewed commitments,” he said.
By then, at the latest, the defense secretary said, “we should begin to see tangible gains from those additional capabilities, from the ones that the coalition is already bringing to bear.”
Carter said the meeting would end with a discussion on countering ISIL’s movement to other countries, including Libya.
Coalition Defense Ministers Release Statement After Counter-ISIL Meeting
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2016 — Following a first-of-its-kind meeting hosted by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in Brussels today, the defense ministers of nations involved in the coalition to counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant released a statement summarizing the meeting’s outcome.
In addition to Carter, the defense ministers of Belgium, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom participated in the meeting that led to the joint statement. They were joined by senior representatives from Australia, the Czech Republic and Singapore, three nations that provide or intend to provide forces or other support to the campaign.
The statement said the ministers paid tribute to the efforts of all Iraqi security forces, including the peshmerga and Sunni tribal forces, and moderate Syrian opposition forces who are fighting ISIL and have caused numerous tactical defeats of the terror organization in recent months. The ministers said they also acknowledged the coalition force commander’s assessment that these successes mark the transition of the Counter-ISIL campaign.
However, the ministers said, they also acknowledged that significant work remains to be done to ensure ISIL’s lasting defeat and the restoration of stability in Iraq and Syria. “We called on those states playing a counterproductive role in the fight … and the Syrian peace process to play a more constructive role,” the statement said.
Broad Support for Campaign Objectives
The ministers said they provided broad support for the objectives of the counter-ISIL campaign plan and reaffirmed their governments’ “unwavering commitment” to work together.
“We also agreed, as a matter of urgency, to accelerate and intensify the campaign, in order to deliver a lasting defeat to this barbaric organization as quickly as possible,” the ministers said. “We also recognized that recent battlefield successes provide an opportunity to gather additional momentum in our campaign as we enter the next phase of dismantling [ISIL’s] operating capability throughout Iraq and Syria.
To that end, the ministers’ statement said, coalition members highlighted the importance of turning ISIL’s purported strengths into its greatest weaknesses. Coalition members underlined the importance of collapsing its two power centers in Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, and continuing to target its underlying infrastructure, including its financial capability.
“We took note of the substantial resources provided by coalition members that have enabled progress in the military campaign, and thanked those nations that have, from the start of the campaign, demonstrated leadership and support,” the ministers said. “We also welcomed the many countries that have increased their contributions since the horrific attacks in Paris, Turkey, and other locations since the last quarter of 2015.”
Recognition for Increased Contributions
The ministers said they recognized the nations that joined the air campaign, increased commitments or extended operations to Syria and those that committed to restart flights in the near future. They also noted that nations have committed additional trainers, special operations forces, personnel recovery assets, and additional material support. Ministers further noted that other nations were embarking on national conversations to increase in one or more of these categories, including additional police trainers to expand the current police training effort led by Italy, the statement said.
In addition to what has been provided, the statement said, the ministers agreed on an enduring set of requirements that will be needed to expand efforts against ISIL, noting that these requirements will be explored in detail at the coalition chiefs’ of defense conference and the coalition force generation conference in the next four weeks.
As part of that discussion, the ministers said, they agreed to review regularly the coalition’s campaign plan and the progress in its implementation. To that end, the statement said, they agreed to meet again before the end of the year.
The statement said the ministers acknowledged that while the military campaign is an essential part of the overall effort to defeat and destroy ISIL, it is insufficient on its own to ensure lasting success. “We are committed to ensuring the coherence of our military actions with the comprehensive activities in the nonmilitary lines of effort to set the conditions for sustainable political stability in the region,” the ministers said.
The statement concluded with words of thanks for everyone involved in the counter-ISIL effort and encouragement for others “to contribute and join us in this noble effort.”