To be more effective against ISIL,we need better HUMINT and vetting of Syrian opposition groups,Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford,USMC,told the Center for a New American Security in Washington,DC on 14 December.We're going to focus on getting after ISIL's military capabilities,control of terrain and ability to export operations,while being very mindful of the complex situation that we're in.A number of things on the ground are developing positive opportunities.Moving forward,we're looking to increase the tempo and the opportunities for our partners.*
We continue to face enduring challenges of extremism in South Asia as well.The continued threat of al-Qaida requires us to keep counterterror partners for some time to come.The Ghani administration in Afghanistan is fully supportive of what we're doing.I think we have common objectives,but this summer highlighted that the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces have a ways to go.A critical part is the continuing commitment of the international community.The Warsaw Summmit in July is to reinforce commitment to the Afghan campaign,both financially and militarily,through 2020.*
It isn't just ISIL;we have a number of challenges from states as well.Russia has made significant investments in its military capabilities.They introduced new ballistic missiles and submarines this year.
We closely watch China's military capabilities and behaviour in the South China Sea.They have a large conventional capability,a growing navy and increasingly sophisticated air force.In the South China Sea,China is destabilising right now.As Admiral Harris of US Pacific Command said,The Great Wall of Sand is being developed by China in the South China Sea,referring to China's rapid island-building effort in the disputed waters.
North Korea is developing its ballistic missile and cyber capability.*
Earlier in the day,GEN Dunford stood with President Barack Obama when he spoke at the Pentagon,where the President had made a rare visit to get a briefing on the anti-ISIL Operation Inherent Resolve and meet with his National Security Council.Mr.Obama pointed out that the US and its armed forces are:
1.hunting down and taking out ISIL leaders;
2.training and equipping indigenous anti-ISIL ground forces in Iraq and Syria;
3.stopping ISIL's recruiting,financing and propaganda;and
4.negotiating an end to the Syrian civil war.
The President said he had ordered new actions with more firepower into the anti-ISIL campaign this fall,even before the ISIL attacks on Paris and the ISIL-inspired San Bernardino attack.More Special Operations Forces actions are well underway.
ISIL is dug in in urban areas and use human shields to protect themselves,so we have to be smart.We are routing ISIL out with nearly 7,000 airstrikes to date.We're taking out ISIL leaders and commanders one-by-one.If we haven't gotten you yet,you are next,the President warned.We're going out after ISIL from downtown Raqqa,Syria to Libya.In many places,they've lost the freedom to manoeuver.Since this summer,ISIL has not mounted a single successful offensive operation and has lost territory in both Iraq and Syria.In Iraq alone,ISIL has lost 40% of its territory in populated areas;while in Syria,it has lost thousands of square miles.
Immediately following his presentation,Mr.Obama sent Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the Middle East to meet with coalition partners and secure more contributions to Operation Inherent Resolve.