February 11th, 2016 10:06 EST
Ash Carter Meets with Defense Ministers in Brussels on NATO, ISIL
Defense Secretary Ash Carter is in Brussels to attend a NATO defense ministers meeting and to meet for the first time with defense ministers of countries that are major contributors to the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq and Syria.
During a briefing yesterday with reporters traveling with him, Carter said the meeting with his fellow NATO defense leaders is an important milestone on the way to the alliance`s July 8-9 summit in Warsaw, Poland.
A central topic of discussion, the secretary said, will be NATO in its posture moving from reassurance, which is where we started two years ago, to a full deterrence posture in Europe of aggression -- whether [it`s] outright aggression or so-called hybrid warfare -- and putting resources behind what I call a new playbook for NATO. "
The Defense Department`s fiscal year 2017 budget request contains more than $3 billion in European Reassurance Initiative funding -- four times as much as in fiscal 2016 -- for an increased rotational presence of U.S. forces in Europe and for the purchase, upgrading and positioning of equipment in European countries, Carter said.
Other NATO topics will include Afghanistan, North Africa and the Middle East, and activities in the Arctic, the secretary said.
The second part of the trip will mark the first gathering of defense ministers of major countries that make up the coalition against ISIL.
The counter-ISIL defense ministers conference, also in Brussels, comprises 27 nations, including Iraq and the United States, that provide force contributions to the counter-ISIL campaign. Observers also will attend.
There have been lots of meetings of the coalition in the past, " Carter said, [but] I thought it was important to [convene] defense ministers, because " each country can make a contribution to the military campaign. "
Resources and Forces
Convening the defense ministers is important, he added, because we do need to accelerate the campaign, and we have a very clear operational picture of how to do it. Now we just need the resources and the forces to fall in behind it. "
Carter said he will brief the coalition military campaign acceleration plan that President Barack Obama sought and approved.
A military campaign plan is necessary, but not sufficient, to defeat ISIL, Carter said. There are lots of other activities having to do with countering ISIL`s messaging, its finances, foreign fighters and homeland protection, " he explained.
Accelerating ISIL`s Defeat
The United States is looking for opportunities to do more in the fight to hasten and accelerate ISIL`s defeat, the secretary said.
I`ll be asking others at this meeting also to accelerate their efforts, " he added, " and we`ll be discussing " how their efforts can reinforce that campaign plan. "
America is willing and determined to lead, to devise the campaign plan and to add its own major contributions, Carter said.
But we`re looking for others to make a contribution as well, " he told reporters, and their attendance at this meeting suggests a willingness on the part of almost all of them to do more. " Some countries already have indicated a willingness to do more, he added. (Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter: @PellerinDoDNews)
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