By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, November 24, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter began his meeting at the Pentagon today with the French defense minister by expressing his condolences over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s “horrific” Nov. 13 attacks on Paris, and he reiterated the U.S. commitment to strengthen shared efforts against the terrorists, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters.
Cook said Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian spoke within hours of the attacks and have been in frequent contact ever since ISIL’s attacks in Paris killed 130 people from 20 nations and wounded more than 350 others.
While the two defense leaders primarily focused their Pentagon meeting on counter-ISIL efforts today, Cook said, their conversations since the attacks already have resulted in several concrete steps.
Nations Share ISIL Information
“France and the United States are now sharing information and details about operational planning against ISIL to the fullest extent allowed by law,” the press secretary said. “Our nations are also contributing to a thickening of the coalition air campaign with sorties now originating from the French carrier the Charles de Gaulle.”
And France was the first to join the United States in strikes against ISIL in Iraq, Cook said.
Expanding U.S., French Cooperation
The two countries now are looking at ways to further expand their cooperation, he said, adding that “France sand the United States share security in other parts of the world.”
“They have shown strong commitment to each facet of the campaign ever since,” Cook said of the French military. “The French are helping to build the capacity of local fighters, training Iraqi peshmerga forces, and have been at the forefront of efforts to stem the flow of financial support and foreign fighters to ISIL,” he said.
In Africa, the United States has supported the French mission to prevent the spillover effects of terrorism and extremism through a “unique lift in aerial refueling capability,” Cook noted.
“In Europe, France has joined the United States by providing our partners reassurance response to Russian aggression,” he said. The French also have volunteered to lead NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force at a future date, he added.
The defense leaders earlier today met at the White House with President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, who also discussed countering ISIL efforts between the two nations.
“Echoing the president's words today,” Cook said, “Secretary Carter thanked France for serving as an anchor for security on several continents and for standing as a steadfast ally.”