Expressing pride in France’s long alliance with the U.S., Defense Secretary Ash Carter broadly outlined the allied coalition's counter-ISIL campaign in a Paris speech recently, only months after November's terror attacks on the city.
“From Lafayette to Pershing, from the Statue of Liberty to the liberation of Paris, we stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity,” Carter said in his opening remarks, and went on to describe actions he coordinated with French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian within hours of the incident, agreeing to step up intelligence sharing and operational oversight to improve targeting of ISIL.
Praising Le Drian’s insightful observations, Carter shared details of mutual plans to intensify pressure on ISIL, both in Iraq and Syria and beyond. Explaining that specific details must remain confidential, Carter said the coalition has established a rapport with local forces on the ground with shared goals, enabling the coalition to focus efforts while gaining new, valuable insights.
Comparing ISIL to a “cancer that’s threatening to spread,” Carter called for full excision of ISIL’s influence. Outlining three military goals — destroy ISIL’s “parent tumor” in Iraq and Syria, combat its global “metastasis” and protect our nations — Carter pledged to develop a worldwide coalition using a combination of tools, from air strikes, special forces, cyber tools, intelligence, equipment, mobility and logistics, to training, advice and ground assistance.
Targeting the communities of Raqqah, Syria, and Mosul, Iraq, plans call for collapsing ISIL’s control of these cities and additional territories. The combination of air strikes, long-range raids and actions to impede ISIL’s travel and communication routes continues to build momentum, “ensuring that ISIL leaders and fighters enjoy no safe haven," Carter said.
“They’re generating a virtuous cycle of actions, actions which help identify and marshal the strength of yet more local forces…leading to more intelligence… generating new tactical and operational ideas…flushing ISIL out into the open, shrinking its power base, its finances and its space to maneuver -- action that sends an unmistakable message to both ISIL and the moderate Syrian opposition that our coalition will prevail in this fight," Carter said.
Carter praised allied Iraqi soldiers who took back Ramadi’s city center and said the U.S. supports them with critical training and logistics. Carter said that not only the U.S. and France, but the entire world must help accomplish the feat of achieving freedom. Having also met with six world leaders to create a common approach, Carter acknowledged broad and positive agreement among nations as they move forward to defeat ISIL.