A blueprint for a regional air defense system to counter Iran is being developed by the US and its Gulf allies, according to American Secretary of Defense Dr. Ashton Carter.
On Saturday, Carter spoke at the Manama Dialogue, a regional security summit hosted in the capital of the Gulf state of Bahrain.
Carter reiterated a U.S. call for more defense cooperation among Gulf Arab states, a delicate question ever since President Barack Obama last year told The Atlantic magazine some states in the Gulf and Europe were “free-riders” who called for U.S. action without getting involved themselves.
Some Gulf states see Obama, keen to extricate Washington from conflicts across the world, as unappreciative of their willingness to host U.S. bases and purchase U.S. weapons.
“Mutual interest requires mutual commitment. I would ask you to imagine what U.S. military and defense leaders think when they have to listen to complaints sometimes that we should do more, when it's plain to see that all too often, the ones complaining aren't doing enough themselves,” Carter said.
He said the United States would send up to 200 additional US troops to Syria to help train and assist US-backed local forces that are driving towards ISIS’ self-declared capital in Raqqa, Syria.
The new contingent would include special operations forces, trainers, advisers, and explosive ordinance disposal teams, he said.
“This latest commitment of additional forces within Syria is another important step in enabling our partners to deal ISIL a lasting defeat,” Carter said, using the government’s preferred acronym for the terror organization commonly known as ISIS.
On Sunday, Ashton Carter made an unannounced visit to Iraq, where he will get an update on the push to seize the city of Mosul from ISIS, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.
Carter thanked the US, coalition, and Iraqi troops participating in the fight against the terror network and surveyed key locations directly supporting the battle for Mosul.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani and Carter discussed the next moves in the fight.
The US Defense Secretary also met with members of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga, the fighters on the front lines in the battle, and with coalition and U.S. military personnel.
The visit came during Carter’s trip across the globe to thank US troops for their service to “advance U.S. priorities including the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.”
Carter also stopped in Japan, India and Afghanistan. His plan includes visits to Israel, Italy and the United Kingdom.
The UK trip is the last stop of his journey. He plans to take part in a meeting of Defense Ministers from leading members of the coalition to vanquish ISIS.