Defense chief lays out battle plan against ISIS for deploying Bragg troops
Posted July 27, 2016
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with hundreds of Fort Bragg troops Wednesday before they deploy to the Middle East to assist in the fight against Islamic State forces.
About 450 members of the XVIII Airborne Corps Headquarters, including Lt. Gen. Steve Townsend, Fort Bragg's commander, are heading to Kuwait to coordinate the fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. They were serve as advisers and trainers and won't be directly involved in combat.
"You are joining a historic mission. Never before in modern history have so many nations come together to confront an enemy like (ISIS), and we’re fighting together in different ways, across all domains, to destroy (ISIS) not only in its parent tumor in Iraq and Syria, but around the world," Carter said.
Carter spelled out the plan of attack, including shutting down paths into and out of Syria for ISIS fighters, driving north in Syria to split ISIS forces there from those in Iraq and help Iraqi Security Forces push ISIS away from Baghdad and knock out pockets of resistance.
"Our overall strategic approach in Iraq and Syria is to enable victory by capable, motivated local forces and not try to substitute for them because they need to make the victory stick," he said.
The plan was well received by the troops about to carry them out.
"This time, the fight is completely different, a lot more challenging when you add Syria to the mix," Lt. Col. Jim Hardaway said. "Intellectually, it's going to be a very different fight than we've ever done in Iraq. So, to me, that's a great professional challenge."
Many of the soldiers have been on multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Samuel Hall said he had an easy explanation when his 9-year-old son when he asked why he had to leave again.
"You've already been. Why are you going?" Hall said his son asked. "There are so very bad people that are doing bad things, and our country calls us to go and protect folks."
Carter thanked the troops by shaking hands with each and thanking their families for their sacrifices.
"Your example, your service and your daily sacrifices – and those of your families – are never lost on me. You will forever have my, and our nation's, profound gratitude," he said.