Defense Secretary Ash Carter laid out broad plans Wednesday to defeat Islamic State militants and retake the group’s key power centers in Iraq and Syria. And he announced that a special commando force has now arrived in Iraq. Speaking to troops from the 101st Airborne Division who will soon deploy to Iraq, Carter also said he would meet in Paris next week with his defense counterparts, mainly from Europe, and will challenge them to bring more capabilities to the fight.
He said he will be meeting with defense leaders from France, Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and “will not hesitate to engage and challenge” them to get them to do more. “Each of these nations has a significant stake in completing the destruction of this evil organization, and we must include all of the capabilities they can bring to the field,” he said.
Some contributions the U.S. has requested already are special operations forces, fighter jet and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and munitions, training and other combat support. Carter’s broader message signaled the completion of a military plan to help Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces retake Mosul in northern Iraq and to assist the Syrian moderate forces oust Islamic State militants from their headquarters in Raqqa.
He described operations that would send Iraqi forces from the south and Peshmerga forces from the north to encircle and cut off Mosul. But he warned that taking it back will not be quick or easy, and he offered no timelines. Carter announced in December that the U.S. would deploy about 200 special operations forces to Iraq to better capitalize on intelligence and put more pressure on the enemy.