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Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2016 — Coalition partners are looking for ways to build on the momentum of the counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant campaign as they meet at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, today.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter convened the meeting to discuss the counter-ISIL campaign and to formulate ways to accelerate the defeat of the terrorist group.

This is a “critically important time for our counter-ISIL military campaign,” Carter said.

“Thanks to this global coalition, our clear and deliberate campaign plan, our dedicated local partner forces, and the sacrifices of our militaries’ members,” he added, “we now have momentum in this fight and clear results on the ground.”

The coalition campaign is working to fight ISIL in Iraq and Syria where the group’s leaders declared a caliphate, Carter said. Another objective is to combat ISIL elsewhere in the world. The final objective is to protect coalition homelands.


The Andrews meeting is an update to the Coalition Military Campaign Plan leaders agreed to in January, the secretary said.

“Our campaign’s strategic approach is to identify and enable capable and motivated local forces who can deliver ISIL a lasting defeat,” Carter said. “Only local forces can deliver and sustain such a defeat by holding and governing territory after it has been retaken from ISIL.”

There has been much progress since last year when Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland became the overall operational commander for Inherent Resolve, the secretary said.

The campaign set in motion a series of specific and deliberate steps that the coalition had to accomplish to put ISIL on a path to a lasting defeat, Carter said.

“And since then -- play by play, town after town, from every direction and in every domain -- our campaign has accelerated further, squeezing ISIL and rolling it back towards Raqqa and Mosul,” he said. “We’re isolating those two cities and effectively setting the stage to collapse ISIL’s control over them.”

Iraqi Progress

In Iraq, the coalition effort enables Iraqi forces led by Prime Minister Haidar Abadi and the Peshmerga supported by Kurdish Regional President Masoud Barzani. After clearing Ramadi, the Iraqi security forces moved on to liberate Hit, Rutbah, and Fallujah.

“Early last week, they seized the strategically important Qayyarah West airfield, which is a critical logistical springboard for the effort to collapse ISIL’s control of Mosul,” Carter said.

The coalition is also seeing results in Syria, the secretary said. After seizing Shaddadi -- a crucial junction on the road between Mosul and Raqqa -- indigenous partners on the ground have now surrounded the city of Manbij, one of the last junctions connecting Raqqa to the outside world.

Coalition efforts have been aimed at systematically eliminating key ISIL leaders and the group’s financial base. “Wherever our local partners have moved -- whether in Anbar, Ninewah or Manbij -- we have taken out ISIL’s field commanders,” Carter said. “Meanwhile, we’re continuing attacks on ISIL’s economic infrastructure -- from oil wells and trucks to cash storage sites. And we’re taking the fight to ISIL across all domains, including cyber.”

Intensifying the Campaign

Now is not a time to rest, Carter said. Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, will brief defense leaders during the meeting on what is needed to intensify the campaign.

“We’ll identify the capabilities and support required to execute those next plays,” Carter said.

“Today, we’ll identify both our enduring and emerging requirements and review our detailed metrics matrix of national contributions -- going through it row by row, column and column, and country by country,” he said. “We must ensure that our partners on the ground have what they need to win the fight and then hold, rebuild and govern their territory.”

Carter said the coalition also needs to address the influence of ISIL outside Iraq and Syria.

“Today, we’ll also discuss how we can continue to combat ISIL wherever it might attempt to take hold and how our military campaign can best support our national governments’ efforts to protect our respective homelands and people,” he said.

(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)

Distribution channels: Military