Friday, March 6, 2015
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Inside Washington

What happens in the halls of national government – for better or for worse – can dictate the future course of America. Along with your fellow Prayer Team members, you are to be constantly and fervently interceding for all the men and women who serve in Congress, for your military leaders in the Pentagon, and for the President of the United States, his cabinet and administration.

“Inside Washington” will equip you to do just that … with reports on the nation’s leaders and the decisions they’re considering … or have already made. We’ll examine the implications for the nation, and call you to specific prayer for those needs.

Team America Summoned To Kuwait

Inside Washington

New Pentagon chief talks counter-IS strategy

By Bill Noles

The new United States Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, convened an unusual counter-IS (the Islamic State militant group) meeting at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait just six days after taking office. Among those attending were several three-star and four-star generals, including Army General Lloyd Austin, the head of the U.S. military’s Central Command.

Carter said he hoped the six hours of unscripted discussions would help evaluate the war that he inherited. “I’m trying to assess the situation in Iraq, Syria and the region more generally,” he told reporters.

Emphasizing the gathering was a learning tool – not a sign of his concern about the strategy or a prelude to an overhaul – a senior U.S. defense official told reporters, “I am not expecting a major re-write of our strategy. I’m just not. He just wants to understand it and he’s the kind of guy where he needs to...dig into it.”

Carter summoned U.S. ambassadors from Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Arab nations as well as presidential envoys John Allen and Brett McGurk. Other key participants were Army General Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Lieutenant General Michael Nagata, head of the U.S. program to train and equip moderate Syrian fighters battling the al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist group.

“This is Team America,” Carter said, describing the conference attendees.

“I’m always open to advice from our military commanders about what the best way to achieve success is,” he said. “That is a question that will come down the road.”

As President Barack Obama’s fourth defense secretary in six years, Ashton “Ash” Carter replaces Chuck Hagel, the Vietnam War veteran and former Republican senator from Nebraska, who resigned under pressure in November of last year. The new Pentagon Chief, who has degrees in theoretical physics and medieval history from Yale and Oxford, was approved unanimously by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Sworn in by Vice President Joe Biden in a ceremony at the White House, Carter took the helm at the Department of Defense at a time when America is immersed in several complex national security challenges across the globe, including the widening military campaign against the Islamic State militant group.

“It is a problem that has an important military dimension, but it’s not a purely military problem – it’s a politico-military problem,” Carter said as the talks began.

“Carter said he assembled U.S. generals, diplomats and intelligence officials not just to hear the latest on battlefield progress but also to better understand the intellectual underpinnings of Obama’s counter-IS strategy, including the ways military force is supposed to combine with political and economic measures to reverse the Islamic State’s gains and eventually defeat it,” the Associated Press reported.

“The discussion indicated clearly to me that this group is hardly invincible,” Carter told reporters following the summit.

Carter said the U.S.-led aerial bombing campaign in Iraq is going well, and he expressed confidence that the U.S. military is well suited to carrying out a longer-term effort to train and equip an opposition rebel force in Syria. According to the Associated Press, he specified two areas for needed improvement in the overall strategy: more creative use of social media to counter ISIL’s (an alternate acronym for the militants) messaging campaign, and getting more out of some coalition member countries, which he did not name..

“Our discussion this afternoon affirmed the seriousness and the complexity of the threat posed by ISIL, especially in an interconnected and networked world,” he said. “Lasting defeat of this brutal group can and will be accomplished.”

The meeting was convened amid the continued criticism of President Obama’s strategy for countering Islamic extremism. It also coincided with the Obama administration’s request to Congress for a new authorization to use military force against the Islamic State group.

“We will deliver lasting defeat, make no doubt,” Carter said, adding, “It needs to be a lasting defeat.”

This week pray:

Bill Noles Jr. is a former Christian newspaper publisher, an entrepreneur, author and writer. He and his wife Diann live in Tucson, AZ.

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