MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Thursday that the United States has asked more countries to send Special Operations troops to join the fight against the Islamic State, and not just typical partners like Britain and Australia.
Carter did not name the countries, but said “there are states in the region” who have been asked to become more active in the military campaign. Countries in the region that have Special Operations troops that train with U.S. forces include Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
The comments came during a news conference as the secretary was on base for a meeting with other senior military officials to plan an expansion of the fight against the Islamic State. An elite “expeditionary targeting force” including U.S. Special Operations troops has arrived in Iraq, Carter disclosed Wednesday, and is expected to carry out a variety of raids and intelligence gathering to strike the terrorist group.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command, said at the news conference that the Special Operations troops will continue to work with support from conventional forces. The United States will continue to look for partners to provide Special Operations troops to the fight “as we’ve tried to do in the past.”
In a speech at Fort Campbell, Ky., on Wednesday, Carter told paratroopers that he has reached out to his counterparts from more than 40 countries to contribute more to the military campaign, including Special Operations troops, strike and reconnaissance aircraft, weapons and ammunition, training assistance and combat support like maintenance.
“Many nations are already contributing greatly,” Carter said. “Many can do more. And some are on the wrong track entirely. We don’t ask for favors, but neither do we grant favors. We recognize that nations follow their own best interests, as we follow ours. That means that they themselves must accelerate their efforts disrupting the networks that enable the flow of foreign fighters and materials through their lands.”