PARIS — The US presented to defense ministers of core partner nations a military campaign aimed at toppling Islamic State and asked for further contributions to speed up and widen the coalition effort, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday.
Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian co-chaired a meeting with counterparts from Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, with US officials presenting the plan to eject the jihadist fighters from their headquarters in Raqqa, Syria and Mosul, Iraq, and to maintain that planned defeat.
“We discussed military campaign requirements to expand efforts against ISIL/Daesh and committed to work together with other military and non-military contributors to fill these requirements,” the seven countries said in a joint statement.
“We agreed to review regularly the coalition’s campaign plan and the progress in its implementation.”
A military drive is needed but not sufficient, said the core partners, which make the biggest contributions in the drive against the ISIS.
“We are committed to ensuring the coherence of our military actions with the comprehensive efforts to set the conditions for sustainable political stability in the region.”
President Barack Obama and the National Security Council discussed the military plan last week, Carter told a press conference held with Le Drian. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, heads of US Central Command and US Special Operations Command reviewed the plan and discussed how to speed up execution.
US officers drew on Le Drian’s visit to the Pentagon after the Nov. 13 Paris terrorist attacks in drafting the plan, Carter said.
“His incisive observations, and strong resolve played a critical role in refining our military campaign plan against ISIL,” he said.
Elements of the campaign were presented last week to the US Army's 101st Airborne Division, which will soon deploy to Iraq, the American defense secretary said. The next step was to present the plan to the closest allies, which is why the meeting of the seven nations was held here.
“We agreed we all must do more,” he said. Obama would be briefed on the meeting when Carter returns to the US.
A meeting of 27 defense ministers of the coalition and Iraq will be held in Brussels in three weeks, Carter said.
The military plan expects coalition members to make contributions which span airstrikes, specialoperations forces, advice, assistance, equipment and training for local forces, cyber tools, intelligence, mobility and logistics.
A follow up meeting of the core nations is will be held in London after that conference, Le Drian said.
The military plan has three key objectives: “destroy the ISIL cancer’s parent tumor in Iraq and Syria by collapsing its two power centers in Raqqa and Mosul,” Carter said. “Combat the metastasis of the ISIS tumor worldwide,” and protect people at home.
Local regional forces are the only practical solution to defeating and sustaining a defeat of the fundamentalist fighters, he said.
Le Drian, asked whether France had deployed the special forces, said, “There is a tradition in France that I will respect, neither the minister or the joint chiefs of staff, nor anyone will comment on the special forces and their operations.
“However, what I can say is — it is not a secret — when they are working with the American special forces, they get on very well.”
Carter said in December US special operations forces would be deployed against ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria.
The US has delivered greater support for French deployment in the sub-Saharan Sahel region, providing intelligence, observation and logistical support, Le Drian said.
The US is committed to that support, Carter said. “That is a widely held view in the US,” he said. “We have the authority to do that, we have the funding to do that and we are grateful for the leadership.”
Bilateral ties between France and the US are close, said Le Drian, pointing to a French admiral in command until yesterday of Task Force 50, which includes US Navy warships. The French Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier is sailing in that naval force in the Arabian Gulf.
French fighters since Sunday flew three airstrike missions against ISIS, he said.
Carter said he went on board the French carrier flagship in December and said, “We are all one family in this fight.”
The US defense chief said there are close ties with the French minister.
“I want to commend Mr Le Drian for his steadfast leadership, particularly in the campaign to deliver ISIL a lasting defeat,” he said.
“There is no other minister of defense that I have spent as much time with as I have spent with Jean-Yves, discussing pressing issues that our two nations and our men and women face.”