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Pentagon Chief: U.S. 'Knitting Together' Resources Into Counterterrorism Hubs

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter gives Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar a tour of his office on Wednesday. (DoD photo by Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz)

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter commented today on the Pentagon’s proposal — in the works “for a number of months” now — to develop counterterrorism hubs around the globe to try to stamp out ISIS affiliates.

“Important as it is to defeat ISIL in the parent tumor of Iraq and Syria, to include expelling them from Raqqa, absolutely that’s necessary,” Carter said at a press conference with his Indian counterpart, Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar. “We also have to recognize that as Libya is one example, that this tumor is metastasizing or has metastasized. That’s the reality — recognition of that behind the concept of linking together American counterterrorism and military nodes in the region and around the world so that they operate more smoothly together, so that they can focus on this network wherever it is.”

“These are capabilities that we have deployed now. And, of course, we’re focused on the defense ones. And knitting them together into a network so that the — it takes, as is frequently noted, a network to fight a network. This is going to be our network for fighting ISIL on a regional and, indeed, a global basis.”

Carter said his department is still “working on that.”

“That’s a proposal that we’ve been working on now for a number of months. I think it’s a necessity,” he said. “And it should be and will prove to be very effective at what is a regional and global phenomenon, as we know.”

The Defense chief noted that the time it’s taking to try to take back Ramadi from ISIS “has been disappointingly slow.”

“I am certain it will fall, and we will assist in the making of it fall… as soon as possible.”

Parrikar was asked about the Indian government’s reaction to Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

“I think your question to me has the potential for nuclear bomb,” the defense minister quipped, sparking laughter.

“I’ll not comment on what has been talked about in the U.S. But as far as India is concerned… we are the second-largest Muslim population,” Parrikar said. “We believe that everyone has equal opportunity, equal rights. Yes, maybe there are a few small pockets of extremism, radicalization, but there are too few to treat the different sections of society differently.”

“In India, we have equal rights for everyone, and we don’t look towards communities with suspicion. Those who are radicalized is a different issue. We tackle them separately, but that is — those were terrorists.”

Carter has been careful not to comment on Trump’s remarks.

“This is a department that stands apart from politics. It’s national security, and I’m not going to comment while I’m secretary of defense on anything that is going on in the campaign trail,” he said.

“We have said as a matter of — and the president has said this, that as a matter of — in the fight against ISIL that this is not a fight with Muslims or Islam. It’s not, as they would like to have us say, a Westernizing of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria. We — this is an extremist, violent movement which threatens America and needs to be defeated. And we’re working on accelerating the defeat of ISIL. That’s the important thing.”