The PJ Tatler

Defense Sec: It's Keeping ISIS Defeated 'That's the Trick'

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told an Association of the U.S. Army luncheon today that America “could defeat” ISIS, “but it’s keeping them defeated that’s the trick.”

“It’s the ‘lasting’ part of ‘lasting defeat’ that’s the trick,” he added, stressing the need for getting Iraq and its security forces to “behave.”

“But we’re still waiting for the Iraqi government to assign and pay those forces in adequate numbers,” Carter said, adding that the process in Baghdad is “frustratingly slow.”

He noted that “the Russians originally said they were going to fight ISIL, al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations; however, within days of deploying their forces, the Russians began striking targets that are not any of these groups.”

“We have not, for our part, and will not agree to cooperate with Russia as long as they continue to pursue a misguided strategy… We’ve seen some unprofessional behavior from Russian forces. They violated Turkish airspace, which we — as strong — as we strongly affirmed in Brussels last week, is NATO airspace. They’ve shot cruise missiles from a ship ion the Caspian Sea without warning. They’ve come within just a few miles of one of our unmanned aerial vehicles. And this agreement, when concluded, will address these safety issues.”

Carter added that Russia’s “also initiated a joint ground offensive with the Syrian regime, shattering the facade that they’re there to fight ISIL. This will have consequences for Russia itself, which, as I said, is rightful — rightfully — rightly fearful of an attack on Russia.”

“Now, Russia has the opportunity to change course, rejoin the track towards genuinely fighting extremism. rather than fueling extremism, and participating in a political transition in Damascus. I don’t know if they will,” he said. “For now, from the Kamchatka peninsula through South Asia, into the Caucasus and around to the Baltics, Russia has continued to wrap itself in a shroud of isolation, and only the Kremlin can decide to change that.”

Asked what capabilities the Army needs to be prepared for this new Russian reality, Carter replied, “This is where the idea of a new playbook comes in and where the Army fits into the new playbook. This isn’t going to be the Fulda Gap. This is a different kind of conflict today.”

“…Forces prepared for traditional combat, but also for the kind of hybrid warfare or ‘little green men’ kind of activity that we saw in Ukraine, and that are enabled in new ways — space, cyber and so forth — that the Army’s also climbing on top of.”