By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, July 25, 2015 – Following a meeting with Kurdish senior military leaders yesterday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited U.S. and coalition troops in Irbil, Iraq, to encourage them and offer insight regarding Kurdish peshmerga fighters and their efforts to thwart Islamic State insurgents.
The secretary acknowledged the complexity of enabling Kurdish forces to sustain victory against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with U.S. help.
“The trick isn't just to beat ISIL,” Carter said. “That's not the strategic outcome we're trying to get. We're trying to get a defeat that sticks -- a lasting victory, and that can only be delivered by the people who live here.”
Carter noted that with combined U.S. and Kurdish peshmerga fighter’s efforts through training, advice, equipment, air support, intelligence, the Kurdish can “hold and provide for a decent way of life” for themselves.
Absent an enduring victory, Carter said the region’s inhabitants are subject to another cycle of uprising, violence, and barbarianism. “So to make the victory stick, we have to have local forces -- that's the secret sauce here.”
Sustain a Victory
The secretary also outlined similar capabilities and the strategic approach in other parts of the Iraqi and Syrian security forces. “We are trying to build up a force throughout the territory of Iraq, and then someday, because it's a very different situation in Syria that can do that … sustain the victory you help with here,” he said.
Carter described peshmerga as the “model” of U.S. and coalition efforts against ISIL throughout the area of responsibility.
“You guys are in a sense the pathfinders for all of us,” Carter said. “What you learn here and the tradecraft that you develop, the ability you have to work together … to work with your partners … that's something that's going to benefit all of us and also benefit all of the other forces that are building themselves up here in Iraq and Syria.”