By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, February 8, 2016 — As Defense Secretary Ash Carter prepares to travel to Brussels this week to encourage greater contributions by NATO allies to accelerate the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Canada today announced it will step up its counter-ISIL efforts, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters.
Cook said Canada will triple its training in Northern Iraq, double intelligence efforts and adjust humanitarian and development contributions. The Canadian military also will continue its air campaign and refuel aerial surveillance aircraft, he added.
“The secretary sees these as significant contributions, and he greatly appreciates the decision by the [Prime Minister Pierre] Trudeau government to step up Canada’s role in the campaign at this critical time,” he said.
Canada’s announcement coming on the heels of last week’s decision by the Dutch to join the air campaign in Syria, adds momentum to what Carter will ask of other nations during his 4th NATO Ministerial.
“As the secretary has said, the United States is willing to lead the coalition and the fight against ISIL, but the barbaric group poses a threat to every nation, so every nation should join the fight,” Cook said. Nations unable to contribute militarily should consider financial or humanitarian contributions and help to rebuild war-torn areas such as Ramadi, he added.
The secretary’s NATO agenda will also include President Barack Obama’s decision to quadruple funding for the European Reassurance Initiative, which would enable the United States to strengthen its robust military presence in Europe, enhance partner capabilities, and improve U.S. ability to uphold Article 5 commitments to NATO members, Cook said
North Korean Missile Launch
North Korea’s missile launch this weekend “represents yet another destabilizing and provocative action that only undermines peace and stability in the region,” Cook said.
And because the United States is committed to its regional allies’ security, “We will take all necessary steps to defend ourselves and our allies and respond to North Korean provocations,” Cook said.
Based on North Korea’s evolving threats, the U.S.-South Korea alliance will examine its missile defense posture and the feasibility of U.S. Forces Korea operating a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system as soon as possible, he said.
THAAD provides the Ballistic Missile Defense System with a globally transportable, rapidly deployable capability to intercept and destroy ballistic missiles inside or outside the atmosphere during their final, or terminal, phase of flight, according to DOD’s Missile Defense Agency website.
Budget Request to Debut
With the debut of the $582.7 billion fiscal year 2017 Defense Budget proposal tomorrow, Cook reminded reporters that Carter said, “Today's security environment is dramatically different than the one we've been engaged with for the last 25 years and it requires new ways of thinking and new ways of acting.”
While the defense budget request meets existing and future challenges and highlights “critical” defense investments, it also offers reforms to ensure taxpayers “get the most bangs for their buck,” he said.