Magazine article U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

Statement on the U.S. Military Strategy in the Middle East and the Counter-ISIL Campaign before the House Armed Services Committee

Magazine article U.S. Department of Defense Speeches

Statement on the U.S. Military Strategy in the Middle East and the Counter-ISIL Campaign before the House Armed Services Committee

Article excerpt

As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Washington DC, December 1, 2015

Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, all Members of this Committee: Thank you for inviting me to discuss with Chairman Joe Dunford, our counter military campaign.

And Chairman, I agree with you, we do need greater effort, we're applying greater effort and we're going to try to describe some of the ways that we're doing that. And Mr. Smith, the underlying strategy and its clarity I'll try to provide that clarity today.

Now, ISIL's attacks in Paris, like those it has perpetrated elsewhere, were barbaric and they were an assault on the civilization we defend. ISIL requires, and it will receive, a lasting defeat. The President had directed us to intensify and adapt the military campaign before the Paris attacks, and we will describe those new actions today. We continue to accelerate our efforts in the wake of Paris, and we are urging others to do the same, because those attacks further highlighted the stakes that not just the United States but the world has in this fight.

As I've discussed with you in the past, the United States' strategy requires leveraging all the components of our nation's might to destroy ISIL. Every instrument of national power - diplomatic, military, intelligence, law enforcement, homeland security, economic, informational - is engaged and every national security agency is contributing to one of the strategy's lines of effort. We're defending the homeland, acting to defeat ISIL in its core in Syria and Iraq, and taking appropriate action wherever else in the world this evil organization metastasizes.

The Defense Department contributes to nearly all the lines of effort, but protecting the homeland is among our highest priorities. We're adapting to meet ISIL's threat, including assuring the security of Defense Department installations and personnel. And, just last week, I hosted some of the top national security and law enforcement leaders at the Pentagon to discuss efforts to cut off the flow of foreign fighters.

We at the Defense Department, of course, are also centrally responsible for the military campaign, which will be the focus of my statement to this Committee. Through our own action and those of our coalition partners, the military campaign will destroy ISIL's leadership and forces, and deprive it of resources, and safe haven, and mobility - all while we seek to identify and then enable capable, motivated local forces on the ground to expel ISIL from its territory, hold and govern it, and ensure that victory sticks.

That's the right strategic approach for two principal reasons. First, it emphasizes the necessity of capable, motived local forces - as the only force that can assure a lasting victory. Such forces are hard to find, but they do exist. And we can enable them - and we are constantly looking for effective ways to expand doing so and I'll describe some of them - but we cannot substitute for them.

And, second, this strategic approach sets the conditions for a political solution to the civil war in Syria and to crippling sectarianism in Iraq, which are the only durable ways to prevent a future ISIL-like organization from re-emerging. And that's why the diplomatic work, led by Secretary Kerry and the State Department, is the first and absolutely critical line of effort in our strategy.

We are gathering momentum on the battlefield in Syria and Iraq. And today, I will describe how the U.S. is continuing to accelerate the military campaign against ISIL, and what more we're asking of our global partners. While I can't describe everything in this unclassified setting, I do want to take a few extra minutes this morning to give as much detail as possible about the new things we are doing to accelerate ISIL's defeat.

We're at war. We are using the might of the finest fighting force the world has ever known. Tens of thousands of U. …

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