A small number of US military personnel is on the ground in Libya to assess the growing threat of ISIS in that country, the Pentagon said Wednesday. The military members are there to meet with “a diverse range of groups to get a better sense of what is happening on the ground,” Defense Department Press Secretary Peter Cook said during a Pentagon briefing. The group deployed in an “effort to explore relationships, and get a better sense of what’s going on,” he said. Cook would not elaborate on the total number of the troops, or what service they are from. The US is using their assessment to look at possible military options to stop the growth of ISIS in Libya, he said. Cook’s comments come days after Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the US is “looking to take decisive military action against ISIL” in Libya, according to a Jan. 22 Defense Department release.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.