The US has opportunities it didn’t previously have in the battle against ISIS because it’s identified ground forces willing to join the fight and because intelligence, which was “not so great” originally, has improved dramatically, Defense Secretary Ash Carter testified Tuesday in a House Armed Services Committee hearing. Finding forces like the Kurds, the Syrian-Arab coalition, Peshmerga, and others to fight ISIS has been “hard,” Carter said. Now, the US is looking for more, and hopes that as the Syrian-Arab coalition “rolls south towards Raqqa, [it] is like a snowball that continues to gather people who are tired of ISIL’s rule,” he said. Improved intelligence has given the coalition opportunities to do airstrikes and ground operations, he said. “We’re doing everything that we possibly can to defeat this enemy,” Carter said. However, when pressed by committee member Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Carter would not say the US is currently winning what he had referred to as a war. “Are we winning, Mr. Secretary?” Turner asked. “We will win,” Carter responded. “Are we winning now?” Turner repeated. “We are going to win,” Carter said.
As the U.S. continues to pursue a diplomatic resolution with Russia over its troop buildup on the Ukraine border, the Defense Department is looking into what capabilities it will need to reassure NATO allies if Russia does launch an invasion, its top spokesperson said Jan. 21.