Wednesday, January 20

U.S. charges at Islamic State with the battle cry, "We'll hold more meetings!"

7 Western defense chiefs gather to make a better battle plan against Islamic State

Summary of the improved battle plan: 

1. Female defense chiefs to wear brighter colors for the next meeting.
2. Look busy.
From the Deutsche Welle report on the meeting:
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday there was "broad agreement" on a plan to accelerate the campaign against IS over the next year, as defense officials said they had made progress pushing back the Sunni extremist group.
"We agreed that we all must do more," Carter said in Paris after meeting with the defense ministers of France, Australia, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The US plan envisions coordination among nations fighting IS and backing Iraqi security forces and Kurdish peshmerga to take Mosul in northern Iraq, while across the border working with Syrian Kurdish and moderate Arab forces to put pressure on IS' self-declared capital in Raqqa.
The US-led coalition must focus on "collapsing its two power centers in Raqqa and Mosul," Carter said.
The US defense chief added that defense ministers from Iraq and 26 nations in the anti-IS military campaign would meet in Brussels in three weeks.
The US is asking countries to increase their contribution to the campaign, including special forces, fighter and reconnaissance jets, drones, training and weapons and munitions. It's also calling on Gulf Arab states and other countries in the region to become more involved. ...
From the Washington Post report:
(Paris) The U.S.-led military coalition’s fight against the Islamic State militant group entered a new phase on Wednesday, with defense ministers from the seven countries most heavily involved in the operation pledging to continue fighting and look for ways to more aggressively target the group.
The United States, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Australia and the Netherlands made the promise here after a joint meeting hosted by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and his French counterpart, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. The group’s members said in a joint statement that they have “expressed our broad support for the campaign plan objectives, and the need to continue gathering momentum in our campaign.”
Navy Vice Adm. Mark I. Fox, the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, briefed the defense ministers on what has been identified as needs, including more Special Operations troops, more training to help local forces counter improvised explosive devices and more training on how to build temporary bridges for military operations, said a senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting candidly.
“There was agreement that this is a good moment to do more,” the senior defense official said.
Separately, Carter announced during a news conference Wednesday alongside Le Drian at the French version of the Pentagon that he has invited leaders from all 26 nations involved in the military side of the campaign against the Islamic State, along with Iraq, to meet in three weeks in Brussels, the home of NATO.
The first-time meeting will be focused on how the war may be expanded to include more resources. That leaves out 37 other countries that are a part of the 63-member coalition in some way, but not contributing militarily.
"Every nation must come prepared to discuss further contributions,” Carter said of the countries invited to attend the meeting in Brussels.
The senior defense official described the planned meeting in Brussels as a “forcing function” that will move defense ministers toward assessing how their countries will participate in the fight against the Islamic State in the future.
In addition to the countries whose defense ministers met in Paris, ministers from countries like the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, who have participated in the air war against the militants in the past, will be invited. ...

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