Fort Campbell soldiers will be an integral part of the fight against ISIL. That was the main message shared by U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter during his visit to the army base on Wednesday.
As Secretary Carter addressed soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division and the 2nd Brigade Combat team, he described ISIL as a cancerous tumor, threatening to spread throughout the Middle East and the world.
“Our military campaign, accordingly, focuses on three military objectives,” Carter said. “One, to destroy the ISIL parent tumor in Iraq and Syria by collapsing its two power centers in Mosul and Raqqa. Two, combat the emerging metastases of the ISIL tumor worldwide, and three, protect our homeland and our people.”
A total of 1,800 troops — 1,300 from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and 500 from the 101st Airborne Division — will be deployed to Iraq and Kuwait this year to take on this mission. Carter noted that their presence in Iraq and Kuwait will be vital to the fight against ISIL’s terrorism.
“We can’t ignore this fight, and we can’t win it from the outside in,” he said. “That’s why our strategic approach is to help local and motivated and capable forces on the ground in every way we can without taking their place. That’s why your mission is central to our strategy.”
The deployed soldiers will be working hand-in-hand to assist local forces, as they together try to destroy ISIL’s control in the Middle East.
“The Iraqi and Peshmerga forces you will train, advise and assist have proven their determination, their resiliency and, increasingly, their capability,” Carter said. “But they need you to continue building on that success, preparing them for the fight today and the long, hard fight for their future.”
Those in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the 101st Airborne Division are expected to be deployed for nine months.