On Wednesday, June 17, 2015, Secretary of Defense Aston Carter gave testimony on U.S. Policy and Strategy in the Middle East on how to defeat the notorious terrorist group ISIL (AKA: “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”). In many respects these are the specifics everyone has been asking about.
Here is some of what he said on this topic:
“The strategy to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL constructed by President Obama draws upon all the national security agencies of the U.S. government: intelligence, law enforcement, diplomacy, and others. The strategy and its associated military campaign also involve a global coalition, reflecting both the world-wide consensus on the need to counter this threat and the practical requirement for others to do their part. And the counter-ISIL strategy has nine – nine so-called lines of effort, reflecting the breadth of this challenge and the tools needed to combat it.
The first and most critical line of effort is the political one, which is led by the State Department. In Iraq, this involves building more effective, inclusive, and multi-sectarian governance. Each of the other lines of effort requires success in this line because it’s the only way to create support among local forces – and local people – that support being necessary to make progress against extremism stick.
The next two lines of effort are interconnected – to deny ISIL safe haven, and to build partnership capacity in Iraq and Syria. Both are led by the Department of Defense, which, alongside coalition partners, is conducting a bombing campaign from the air, advising and assisting Iraqi security forces on the ground, and training and equipping trusted local forces.
I will address our military’s current execution of these two lines of effort in a moment, but I want to underscore a crucial point about our campaign in Iraq and also Syria: it requires capable, motivated, legitimate, local ground forces to seize, clear, and hold terrain – that’s the only way to ensure a truly lasting, enduring defeat of this movement.
The fourth line of effort is enhancing intelligence collection on ISIL, which is led by the National Counterterrorism Center. The fifth line of effort, which is disrupting ISIL’s finances – a vital task – is co-led by Treasury and State.
Lines of effort six and seven, both co-led by State and the National Counterterrorism Center, are to counter ISIL’s messaging and to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters to and from ISIL, both of which are critical in today’s connected and networked world.
The eighth line of effort, providing humanitarian support to those displaced by or vulnerable to ISIL, is led by State. And finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are working together to protect the homeland – the ninth so-called line of effort – by disrupting terrorist threats here.
The effective execution of all nine of these lines of effort by the United States and its coalition partners is plainly necessary to ensure overall success…”
With regard to the number of troops committed to the fight against ISIL – “We have 35,000 forces postured throughout the region, enabling us to strike ISIL and al-Qaeda terrorists and check Iranian malign influence.”, said Carter.
“The situation in Syria is even more complex, because of the lack of a legitimate government partner, and many competing forces there. Regardless, we will continue striking ISIL in Syria with the long reach of our airstrikes and operators. We will continue working with Syria’s neighbors to impede the flow of foreign fighters into and out of Syria and Iraq. Our train-and-equip mission in Syria has been challenging, but the requirement for a capable and motivated counter-ISIL ground force there also means we must persist in our efforts”, said Carter toward the end of his opening remarks.
Source: DOD/ Congressional Record
See entire transcript of speech http://www.defense.gov/Speeches/Speech.aspx?SpeechID=1949