By Shannon Collins DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 2016 —
Ash Carter, US Defense Secretary told en route to Ankara, Turkey, that the military campaign to wrest control of the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is going well in its early stages. “We’re in the early phases of the positioning of forces and the envelopment of Mosul. This is pursuant to the campaign plan that was first created, and that I described to many of you almost a year ago,” Carter said. “And it is proceeding on schedule, so I’m encouraged by the progress so far … it’s in the very early stages.”
Removing ISIL From Mosul
Carter reminded the press members that the goal is to collapse ISIL’s control of Mosul, and there will be a big job of stabilization and reconstruction afterward. “The concern I have is that the stabilization and reconstruction effort not lag behind our progress at the military effort, that’s critically important,” the secretary said.
Another of Carter’s concerns in the counter-ISIL campaign is while it’s necessary to destroy ISIL in Iraq and Syria, it’s not sufficient, he said.
“We need to rout out ISIL elsewhere [also],” the secretary said. “And, very importantly, we need to protect our own homeland,” including safeguarding Americans abroad.
Meetings in Turkey
Carter’s first stop in his trip is in Ankara, Turkey, where he said he’ll meet with Defense Minister Fikri Isik to talk about NATO alliance efforts while preparing for the NATO ministerial next week. “We’ll also have the opportunity to talk about the counter-ISIL campaign, and I’ll be able to congratulate him and other Turkish leaders on their very significant victory in Dabiq,” Carter said. “That was an important objective, and the Turks, obviously, we were supporting them, but they were carrying the burden of the battle there and they did spectacularly well. They deserve the congratulations for what is a significant objective.”
Carter said the U.S. will continue working with Turkey to consolidate the border region, an important objective in the counter-ISIL campaign for both countries. “I want to commend Turkey with all that is going on in its immediate neighborhood, the tremendous number of refugees that Turkey has had to accommodate [and] for their strength of leadership elsewhere in the world,” he said.
United Arab Emirates Trip
After his visit to Turkey, Carter said he will continue on to the United Arab Emirates, where he’ll meet with the crown prince and minister of defense to discuss counter-ISIL, counter terrorism, Yemen, Iran and other topics of mutual concern.
From there, Carter said he will head to Paris, and meet with the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the fifth small group meeting of the counter-ISIL defense ministers. “It’s something we started to do about a year ago, and we’ve kept up steadily so we can remain aligned in terms of what our campaign plan is, and how we can make the contributions that each of us needs to do, even as we did more and more over the last year,” he said. “As we’ve built momentum in this campaign, I’ve asked all of them to do the same, and they’ve stepped up. We’ll have the opportunity to review our progress and the way forward at that meeting.”
Finally, and most importantly, the secretary said, is the NATO defense ministerial. “I never miss them,” Carter said. “That will be my fifth in Brussels, and we’ll be finalizing decisions there about how to strengthen deterrence and defense within NATO.”