Once ISIS is defeated in Iraq and Syria, the countries making up the coalition must work to defeat the group’s messaging and attempts for attacks in other nations, the leaders of the US and French militaries said Tuesday. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter, speaking Tuesday at a meeting of the Counter-ISIL Small Group Ministerial meeting in Paris, said US Special Operations Command is leading the charge against external attacks by ISIS. This is being addressed in three ways: targeting ISIS’ funding and organization structures in Syria and Iraq, interdicting the flow of foreign fighters, and undercutting ISIS’s message online, Carter said. “The collapse and destruction of ISIL in Iraq and Syria will destroy both the fact and the idea that there can be a caliphate based upon this ideology,” Carter said during a joint press appearance with French Minister of Defense Jean Yves Le Drian. The threat of external attacks has been a reality for some time, and it will remain after the fall of Mosul, but under “different conditions,” Le Drian said. (See also: OIR Goes Multi-Domain.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.