Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hagel, New Iraqi Defense Minister Discuss Way Ahead Against ISIL

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke via telephone with newly appointed Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al Obeidi today to congratulate him on his position and assure support for the minister's counterterrorism pursuits, the Pentagon press secretary reported.

Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel emphasized the importance of rebuilding the Iraqi security forces in a way that engenders trust and confidence among the armed forces personnel and the Iraqi people.

“The minister was quite clear on more than one occasion … that he has every intention of going on the offense against [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] and making sure that the Iraqi security forces are properly resourced, trained and equipped to do that,” the admiral said.

Kirby added that the two leaders also discussed ways to prepare Iraqi security forces for upcoming offensives against ISIL, noting that al Obeidi expressed his appreciation for U.S. advisors and airstrikes.

Hagel and al Obeidi promised to continue to work closely together to pursue mutual security objectives, Kirby said, adding that Iraq’s defense minister seeks to ensure that the country’s security forces represent the interests of all its citizens.

“He wants an inclusive army that’s representative of the population of Iraq and defends every inch of Iraq,” the admiral said.

Hagel Says Strategy Against ISIL is Working

By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2014 – The U.S.-led strategy to degrade and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is working, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today, but emphasized that the fight against the terrorist group will be a “complicated, difficult contest.”

In an exchange with reporters at the Pentagon after meeting with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, Hagel said the administration has repeatedly made clear that the fight against ISIL will be a long, difficult effort.

“We believe that our strategy is working,” he said, while acknowledging that progress in Iraq is mixed.

“The reality is that ISIL has control and still does control a significant amount of ground in Iraq and I don’t think it’s any different from any complicated, difficult contest,” the secretary said.

With the U.S.-led coalition continuing to carry out airstrikes against ISIL targets, Hagel told reporters “there will be mixed and various outcomes daily,” but said he saw no reason for changing U.S. policy.

“We think it’s working,” he summed up.

Airstrikes Against ISIL Continue in Iraq, Syria

From a U.S. Central Command News Release

TAMPA, Fla., Oct. 23, 2014 – U.S. military forces continued to attack terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Syria yesterday and today, using fighter and bomber aircraft to conduct six airstrikes, U.S. Central Command officials reported.

Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq yesterday and today using fighter, attack and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.

In Syria, four airstrikes near Kobani destroyed ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL command and control center. East of Dawr Az Zawr, two airstrikes destroyed ISIL oil holding tanks, Centcom officials said.

In Iraq, four airstrikes south of the Mosul Dam struck four small ISIL units and destroyed an ISIL vehicle. South of Bayji, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL fighting position. Three airstrikes south of Fallujah destroyed an ISIL building and struck a large ISIL unit. Finally, near Fallujah, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL training facility.

All aircraft departed the strike areas safely. Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports.

The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project power and conduct operations, Centcom officials said.