Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford,US Marine Corps,testified before the House Armed Services Committee today to brief the lawmakers on the War On ISIL.Secetary Carter unveiled a new Special Operations Forces unit that will be based in Iraq.The exact number of troops in the Special Expeditionary Targeting Force was not disclosed,but they will number more than the 50 SOFs heading for Syria in a separate accompanying and enabling unit.The SETF will conduct operations in both Iraq and Syria,as opportunity dictates.The new unit will have the missions of:
3.capturing ISIL leaders;and
These missions have been carried out before,Mr.Carter pointed out,but this time the SOFs will be there on a standing basis.For example,there have been recent raids to liberate prisoners in an ISIL prison in Iraq and to kill ISIL leader Abu Sayyaf and capture his wife.
The SETF may operate alone or,more likely,as part of a mixed force,Mr.Carter said.It is a new way of achieving our objective-and there will be more.
The territory under ISIL control has shrunk-that's a fact,Mr.Carter insisted.There's still a lot further to go.We are gathering momentum.*
I do not believe we are limited to the 3500 US troop level currently in Iraq,GEN Dunford added.I don't feel inhibited about recommending more.I will bring these options to the Secretary and the President,regardless of what the force management numbers were in the past.*
Secretary Carter pointed out that all US forces in Iraq and Syria are now under unified command under Lieutenant General Sean McFarland,US Army in Baghdad.For example,LTGEN McFarland is now connected daily to Iraqi President Abadi and forces in Ramadi.This unity of command is really critical.*
Right now,our focus is on Ramadi,GEN Dunford told the Committee.Beiji and Sinjar have fallen;Mosul is a future operation.Probably months from now we will start to see operations in Mosul.*
The 50 SOFs in Syria are just for starters,Mr.Carter revealed.We're prepared to do more and I think the President will authorise this.It hinges on us finding the capable local forces we can enable in this way.The more we find them,the more we'll do.
We killed ISIL's Libya leader two weeks ago.We're determined to get them wherever they arise.*
GEN Dunford listed the areas of concern about ISIL activity as being Egypt;the Boko Haram ISIL affiliate in Nigeria;Lebanon;Jordan;Yemen;Afghanistan and Pakistan.*
We do need our allies to do more,Mr.Carter noted.The British are debating it;the Germans are capable of doing more,and we want them to.I hope the Paris attacks galvanise the Europeans to do more,because they need to do more.Our Gulf Arab allies have been unwilling to field their forces.Many of them weight air forces over ground forces.They need to build and wield their ground forces.