ISIL on defensive but forces must remain: US Commander
WASHINGTON: US Central Command Commander General Lloyd Austin said Thursday ISIL “has assumed defensive crouch in Iraq,” but asserted that forces must remain in the region.
“It is essential that we are present and engaged, and that we cultivate strong partnerships and continue to do our part to address emerging threats and to move the region in the direction of greater stability and security,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
He noted that CENTCOM’s area of responsibility is more volatile than ever with ISIL as the most immediate threat.
The commander highlighted that the US needs to find ways to do more with the “current fiscal situation.” “I remain concerned by the fact that capability reductions can and will impact our ability to respond to crisis, and especially in the highly volatile central region. The resulting loss of flexibility makes the US an our interests increasingly vulnerable to external pressures,” Austin continued.
“If we don’t first get things under control in Iraq, where there is a government that we can work with and some amount of reliable security forces — if we don’t get things right there first before expanding our efforts in Syria, than we risk making matters worse in both countries,” he concluded.