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Defense Secretary Carter visits troops in SW Asia

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter visited Southwest Asia recently to speak with 380th Air Expeditionary Wing members and coalition partners about ongoing operations in the region and their role in the fight against ISIL.

The stop was part of a larger two-week trip to the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East, focusing on rebalancing the Asia-Pacific region and accelerating the lasting defeat of ISIL, according to a Department of Defense press release.

As of 12 April, U.S. Central Command reported that the U.S. has conducted 8,825 strikes in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a campaign to degrade and defeat Islamic State militants.

“We can see the momentum and pressure having an effect on ISIL,” said Secretary Carter to a group of U.S. and coalition forces deployed to the region.

His talks focused on the importance of airpower in defeating ISIL, and the role U.S. and coalition forces play in training and enabling local forces.

“We're working to enable capable, motivated local forces on the ground, because after ISIL is defeated, somebody's got to keep them defeated,” said Carter. “But they can't do it without us. They can't do it without us in the air.”

During the visit, Carter was given a first-hand look at the inner workings of the 380 AEW and its mission, which includes bombing operations carried out by the F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-22A Raptor. Additionally, the wing conducts intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations with the U-2 Dragon Lady reconnaissance aircraft and the remotely piloted RQ-4 and EQ-4 aircraft. Together, the reconnaissance and strike capabilities work synergistically to enhance U.S. impact in the region.

Carter emphasized that while the equipment is vital, it’s the people who make the mission work.

“We all know what makes us the greatest isn't only this equipment; it's first and foremost you,” he said. “(Service members) are doing right now the noblest thing that a person can do. You're providing security.”

Carter stated that while he is confident we will defeat ISIL, that will likely not be the end of U.S. presence in the region. The future stability and safety of Southwest Asia is a priority for the current administration.

“It's my privilege to be Secretary of Defense with you guys, but I have to think ahead 10, 20, 30 years from now, and make sure that tomorrow's force is as great as this one,” he said. “We're limited only by our own ingenuity and our ideas.”