The British military has significantly increased its strike force in Cyprus and has more than doubled the number of missions it is flying in the fight against ISIS since the UK Parliament voted Dec. 2 to extend strikes to Syria, said British Defense Minister Michael Fallon on Friday. Speaking during a joint press conference with Defense Secretary Ash Carter at the Pentagon, Fallon said even before the vote the Brits were playing the second-largest role in the fight against ISIS, including providing 60 percent of the coalition’s tactical reconnaissance and up to a third of the precision strike capability. The vote has allowed the nation to “treat this as one theater,” he said. Fallon said the UK will not send ground troops to Iraq, but said the UK and US “can’t allow the idea to take hold that standing up to this terrorism makes our homeland security any worse. That is a council of despair, and simply wrong. So, we must defend our values as much as our streets, and always remember that these people don’t hate us because of what we do, but because of who we are.”
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.