US eyes ways to step up ISIS fight

2016-04-17 07:28
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter addresses top military and defence officials at Camp Aguinaldo in the Philippines. (Bullit Marquez, AP)

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter addresses top military and defence officials at Camp Aguinaldo in the Philippines. (Bullit Marquez, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Al-Dhafra Air Base, UAE - American Defence Secretary Ash Carter said he will talk with his commanders in the coming days to identify additional ways the US can intensify the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, including more airstrikes, cyberattacks and American troops on the ground.

He said the United States wants to do more in the fight and is "only limited by our own ingenuity" and ideas. Carter expressed confidence that the White House will approve recommendations, saying nothing he has asked President Barack Obama for yet in the conflicts has been turned down.

Carter spoke to reporters at Al-Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi, an important launching point for military operations against the Islamic State group in the region.

His visit comes as the US is considering moves to boost the number of American troops in Iraq, as well as other steps to help the Iraqis take on ISIS.

Carter suggested the US may consider shifting the nature of its military campaign against the extremists, adding there could be more rapid targeting of the enemy as intelligence on the ground improves.

"As we've learned more and are more on top of the enemy, you can do more dynamic targeting," Carter said.

Late last month, US General Joseph Dunford, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that he and Carter believe there will be an increase in US forces in Iraq in the coming weeks. Any final decision would be worked out with the Iraqi government and require Obama's approval.

It's unclear whether the increase would force the White House to formally approve a higher cap on troop levels in Iraq, now set at 3 780.

The Pentagon says there are close to 3 400 US troops there now. According to US officials, however, there are actually as many as 5 000 American forces in the country, but some do not count against the cap because they are in Iraq on temporary duty.

Dunford and Carter have said that accelerating the fight against US could mean using Apache helicopters for combat missions, deploying more US special operations forces or using American military advisers in Iraqi units closer to the front lines.

The US also is likely to provide additional artillery fire and targeting help for Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul. Those American forces, however, would remain well behind the front lines.

Carter has said that Obama and other US leaders will encourage other Gulf nations to contribute economically to the effort to rebuild Iraq once ISIS is defeated.

Obama and other US officials are expected to attend the US-Gulf Co-operation Council leaders' summit next week in Saudi Arabia. The six member countries are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

Carter said on Saturday that the US hopes that the Gulf nations will support Iraq politically as it tries to establish a more successful multisectarian government.

During his visit to the air base, Carter spoke with troops, including those who have been flying and supporting the airstrikes over Iraq and Syria.

Two large Global Hawk surveillance aircraft, an F-22 Raptor fighter jet and and F-15E strike fighter were arrayed in the hangar where Carter spoke.

US Air Force Colonel Johnny Barnes, the vice commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing told reporters that Russian fighters in Syria haven't impeded US airstrikes. But he acknowledged that there were moments in northwest Syria when the Russian jets were an "inconvenience".

Now that some have left the country, he said it's been "less inconvenient".

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq  |  us  |  syria

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.