US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter spoke to airmen of the US Air Force's 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base,Italy on 13 December 2016 as part of his holiday visit to the troops,his last before leaving office in January.Dr.Carter revealed a successful airstrike in the Middle East that directly impacts European security:
I wanted to tell you something that I have not said before.And,you know,we don't talk about these operations very much;but you're the first to know.I can confirm that today we took out three of ISIL's key leaders in the last couple of weeks.It was one strike.These are guys who were linked to plots right here in Europe.And I can't share all the details with you,but,for example,with the Paris attacks.And they were associates of al-Adnani,who was,if you'll recall,the chief external plotter for ISIL and its chief spokesman.*
Addressing members of the US Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team,who are based at Vicenza,Italy,Dr.Carter noted that:
We have,just to remind you,just two brigades stationed all the time here;another one that we'll be putting in on a persistent rotational basis;equipment for a fourth,so that will be an armoured division that troops can fall in on in a crisis;a battalion in the Baltics;and of course much,much more at sea,on land and in the air-a sad necessity of our time,but one that we need to do.
So whether it is in Europe;whether it is in the Middle East;whether it is in Africa,all the things you're doing here are necessary;they're extremely important.So you're right here,right now at a critical time in our strategic history,Dr.Carter concluded.