HomeNewsArticle Display

Carter announces more US support for Afghan forces

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- U.S. forces in Afghanistan now will be able to boost support for Afghan conventional forces with more firepower and by accompanying and advising them on the ground and in the air, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said June 15 in Brussels.

The secretary spoke during a news conference after this week’s NATO defense ministers conference, his fourth as defense secretary and the last such meeting before the July 8-9 NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland.

Based on his recommendations and those of Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, President Barack Obama decided to grant more flexibility to U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year, Carter said.

More proactive support

The new authority means U.S. troops can more proactively support Afghan conventional forces in two critical ways: with more American firepower, especially through close air support, and by accompanying and advising Afghan conventional forces on the ground and in the air, he explained.

“In practical terms, this means U.S. forces will have more opportunities to accompany and enable Afghan conventional forces, just like we have already been doing with Afghan special operations forces,” the secretary said.

“As I told my fellow defense ministers,” Carter added, “this supports our ongoing counterterrorism and force-protection missions there (and) NATO's Resolute Support mission, because a more capable Afghan force only makes our (deployed) forces … more secure, and it will help the Afghans … as we prepare for the U.S. and NATO missions in 2017.”

Carter said U.S. defense budget planning includes full funding for Afghan national defense and security forces through 2020, and that he learned June 15 from NATO counterparts that they also intend to provide funding through 2020 for the Afghan national security forces.

“Regarding U.S. troop levels for future years, the current plan announced last August is for 9,800 U.S. service members to remain in Afghanistan for most of this year and … to draw down that number to 5,500 by the end of the year,” the secretary said.

Since then other nations also have decided to commit to having forces in Afghanistan beyond this year.

“This commitment will be part of NATO's flexible regional approach to the Resolute Support mission,” Carter said. “The United States will continue to lead the NATO effort in southern and eastern Afghanistan, and we will continue to provide coalition partners with sufficient enabling capabilities needed for their own presence, particularly in northern and western Afghanistan.”

Counter-ISIL fight

On the U.S.-led coalition campaign to deliver a lasting defeat to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Carter said he and the ministers agreed that ISIL's parent tumor in Iraq and Syria and its metastasis are among the leading sources of instability emanating from NATO's southern flank.

The effort has received contributions from nearly every NATO member, but every nation and the NATO alliance itself need to do more, Carter added.

“At this ministerial, we discussed specific ways that NATO could contribute more directly to the counter-ISIL campaign, including by providing NATO (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft, and by conducting training and defense capacity building for the Iraqi security forces in Iraq rather than in Jordan,” he said.

With his French and British counterparts, Carter discussed recent momentum in the counter-ISIL campaign in Iraq and Syria.

Three major operations


The coalition is supporting local, capable and motivated forces on the ground in three major operations, all of which are putting a stranglehold on ISIL and applying pressure on multiple fronts, the secretary said.

“In western Iraq we're assisting the Iraqi security forces in Iraqi operations under the leadership of Prime Minister (Haider Al-Abadi) to retake Fallujah,” he said. “In Northern Iraq, we're also supporting the ISF in operations to isolate and pressure Mosul.”

In Northern Syria, Carter said, the coalition is enabling Syrian-Arab coalition forces working to envelop Manbij City, an operation that’s critical for helping seal the Turkish border and cut off the flow of foreign fighters in and out of Syria.

“Another challenge emanating from NATO's southern flank is the migrant and refugee crisis, which NATO is helping address in the Aegean Sea,” the secretary said. “Soon, the United States will be contributing to that NATO activity by sending the USNS Grapple to support it.”

NATO’s eastern flank

On NATO's eastern flank, after Russia illegally annexed Crimea in 2014, NATO took initial actions that included enhancing the NATO Response Force and standing up the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, Carter said, noting that these were good first steps.

“We agreed that NATO would further strengthen its posture to deter, and, if necessary, defeat any aggressor across the full spectrum of conflict -- (and) we've seen results since then,” he added.

The secretary called this an important alliance commitment to deterrence, one that is in addition to bilateral efforts such as the U.S.-European Reassurance Initiative. Details will be finalized in Warsaw, he said.

“More needs to be done,” he added, “particularly to bolster the readiness and capabilities of key NATO units that might be called upon in a crisis.”

That requires resources and rebuilding basic military skills that have atrophied in parts of the alliance over the past quarter century, he said.

“Since the Wales summit (in 2014), NATO forces have been adapting and writing a new playbook for the 21st century,” the secretary said. “We've been innovating to counter new challenges like cyber and hybrid warfare, integrating conventional and nuclear deterrence, and adjusting our posture and presence so that we can be more agile in responding to new threats.”

Meanwhile, he added, NATO is helping support the resilience of its partners against Russian aggression and coercion. In Ukraine, NATO has stood up a trust fund to help the Ukrainian armed forces in areas like cyber, logistics, medical support and countering improvised explosive devices.

Engage

Twitter
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
Twitter
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Twitter
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
Twitter
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
Twitter
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
Twitter
RT @EielsonAirForce: When @SecAFOfficial comes to visit, we show off the 'cool stuff' https://t.co/sGCSnVOOXg
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: A career worth a thousand words: Colonel Campbell reflects on career in aviation - https://t.co/atNAeYOoMI (Story by @Dobb
Twitter
The Air Force will host the Air Force Information Technology and Cyberpower conference virtually August 24–27.… https://t.co/9pRjj6U1lp
Twitter
A Rocket Propelled Grenade was launched at a Dyess AFB C-130J in September 2019. The Airmen had to respond quickly! https://t.co/fgfNkCjA4a
Twitter
#DYK The UH-1N has a crew of three (pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer) and is capable of flight in instrument and… https://t.co/Qcj74Tk4ra
Twitter
.@GenDaveGoldfein has left a lasting impression on @HollomanAFB. #DYK Among his many tours, he was once commander o… https://t.co/ET8q1w8ywO
Twitter
The United States Air Forces in Europe Fire Academy & 86th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters get advanced rescue… https://t.co/AUHlxm0nPt
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you to the #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals at Clear Air Force Station and @EielsonAirForce Base for sharing their…
Twitter
#DYK The F-16A, a single-seat model, first flew in December 1976. The first operational F-16A was delivered in Janu… https://t.co/B72dKcCrnr
Twitter
#DYK The C-17 made its maiden flight on Sept. 15, 1991, and the first production model was delivered to Charleston… https://t.co/edfO5R1YEm
Twitter
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: To the @PACAF Total Force #Airmen, thank you for your dedication to the mission and your spirit to serve. https://t.co…
Twitter
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: I have no doubt @PACAF will continue to grow & prosper under the steady & focused leadership of the #USAF’s newest 4-s…
Twitter
RT @GenDaveGoldfein: For the past 2 yrs, PACAF has transformed under Gen. Brown’s leadership with a new joint mission to deter aggression i…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,251,289
Follow Us