By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, December 17, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in Baghdad yesterday he is confident the coalition will prevail over the the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
As part of a weeklong trip to the Middle East, Carter met with U.S. troops in Baghdad, where he thanked them for their service and stressed the importance of their mission.
"This fight has to be fought. It's for civilization against evil. It's for America against its enemies," he said.
Carter said he and the American people are grateful for the service and sacrifice of the men and women in uniform. That gratitude is especially important to note, he said, over the holidays. He pointed out that people back home are able to enjoy a safe holiday because of the service and sacrifice of those deployed far away.
The troops are protecting the United States and "defeating an enemy that has to be defeated," he said. Those efforts, the defense secretary said, will "leave a better world for everyone, for your children."
Carter, who was accompanied by his wife Stephanie, said being in the military is "the noblest thing you can do with your life, and that's what you're doing, as members of our spectacular military."
The United States and its partners are looking for ways to "up our game and hasten that demise of ISIL" in Iraq and Syria, he said.
"We will win. But we need to win quickly, and that in turn, is on you, your ingenuity," he told the troops.
Carter said he is confident the coalition will prevail because of the efforts of the United States military. ISIL is like cancer, he said. The "parent tumor" is in Iraq and Syria, and it "metastasizes around the world."
The strategy, Carter said, includes supporting capable and motivated local forces, which will govern after the defeat of ISIL.
There appears to be "some deliberate attempt" by ISIL to create a new sect in Afghanistan, he said. In addition, there are some people in Afghanistan who might be in other groups like the Taliban and decide to align themselves with ISIL, Carter said.
"Either way, it also has to be fought in Afghanistan," he said.