(CNSNews.com) – Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said on Tuesday the United States is “aiming to accelerate” the anti-ISIS campaign “in every possible way.” And on Wednesday, Col. Steve Warren, a spokesman for the anti-ISIS campaign in Iraq, indicated that additional U.S. “forces” will be forthcoming.
A reporter asked Warren about “potential force increases” for training, advising and assisting the Iraqi fighters.
“So we’re continuing that,” Col. Steve Warren responded. “You know, General MacFarland will — and the staff here will create what we believe are the additional capabilities that we need, you know, for the fight, for the future fight.
“And we’re going to — we’re going to give those to CENTCOM, U.S. Central Command, and we’ll let them have a look at them, and they’ll process them, run those recommendations through their staffing process and then it’ll move along the chain of command from there.
“So we’re fairly far along on it. I believe that no matter what happens, all of these things have to get worked concurrently, if you will, through the government of Iraq, right? We’ve been very clear that we’re not going to bring additional forces here without the government of Iraq’s approval, so we’re going to have to work these things on two parallel tracks. But we’re moving right along.”
On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Carter told PBS’s Charlie Rose that he has “proposed a number of ways of accelerating” the fight against Islamic State terrorists.
Carter said the strategy remains the same — to train, equip and assist Iraqi ground troops, because when the fighting is done, the Iraqis are the only ones who can hold the territory.
“In the end, we can’t substitute for them but we can enable them,” Carter said. “We can help them. That’s our overall strategic approach. And we’re constantly looking for ways to do that. So just in the last few months, to give you an indication, we have introduced some additional strike forces in the region. We have–”
“What does that mean, strike forces?” Rose interrupted.
“Some Special Forces that are capable of doing raids and strikes and assisting the Iraqi counterterrorism forces in striking ISIL targets there,” Carter said.
“These are Special Forces that are being used on offensive missions to strike ISIL?” Rose asked.
“Yes, we announced that about a month and a half ago — they’re operating there. That’s an example,” Carter said.
“It is. It is. It is,” Carter responded. “There are 3,700 boots on the ground in Iraq. There is all this talk about boots on the ground. We have boots on the ground in Iraq. And what are they doing? They are training Iraqi forces. They are assisting Iraqi forces. They’re helping train, by the way, Sunni, which is very important. They’re helping train police because, after a city is cleared, the police have to — there have to be police to secure the city, keep the order.
“They’re helping the Iraqis with all kinds of things that may not sound very interesting but are critically important like bridges, helping them with their air force and other kinds of capabilities.”
“But they’re also engaged in search and destroy,” Rose said.
“They are. They are. They absolutely are,” Carter said.
As CNSNews.com has reported, Carter announced last December that the U.S. was deploying a “specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Peshmerga forces put even more pressure on ISIL.” He said the Special Forces would “be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.” They would also conduct “unilateral operations in Syria.”
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