Nancy Pelosi briefed on ISIS at MacDill
A bipartisan Congressional delegation, led by Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, D-California, visited MacDill Air Force Base on Friday for a briefing by top military commanders on training and equipping initiatives in the fight against the so-called Islamic State jihadi group.
The delegation met with Army Gen. Raymond A. "Tony" Thomas III, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth S. Wilsbach, acting deputy commander of U.S. Central Command.
"We appreciated the opportunity to meet with our top military commanders and discuss U.S. and allied operations to counter the threat of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, including recent successes and challenges," said Pelosi, the House Democratic Leader, in a media release issued Saturday. "In addition, the delegation was briefed on USCENTCOM activities in Afghanistan and Yemen."
CentCom oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia. SoCom is responsible for training and equipping commandos, like Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets and Rangers and Air Force and Marine special operators.
"The delegation was grateful for the opportunity to thank the courageous women and men of USCENTCOM and USSOCOM for their professionalism, leadership and steadfast dedication to keeping America safe," Pelosi said in the release.
U.S. and coalition forces are working to train and equip Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga troops, as well as forces willing to fight Islamic State in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter recently told a group of defense ministers allied in the fight against Islamic State.
Carter told the ministers, meeting in Stuttgart, Germany, that U.S. and coalition forces are working to stabilize Iraq's Anbar province and build up Iraqi security forces, including Peshmerga forces in the north, by training, equipping and positioning them; enveloping the city of Mosul; identifying and developing more local forces in Syria that can isolate and pressure the nominal ISIL capital of Raqqa; and providing more firepower, sustainment and logistics support to partners so they can collapse ISIL control over both cities, according to the Pentagon website.
In Syria, the Defense Department increased U.S. forces from 50 to 300, using the extra 250 personnel, including special operations forces, to help expand ongoing efforts to identify, train and equip capable, motivated, local anti-Islamic State forces there, especially among the Sunni Arab community, Carter said at the meeting, according to the Pentagon website. And U.S. special operations forces will be able to incorporate partner special operations forces from other countries to augment coalition counter-Islamic State efforts there, he added.
Special operations forces efforts in the Centcom region are controlled by Special Operations Command Central, a headquarters based at MacDill, at the discretion of Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of CentCom.