Tester Pushes for Plan to Defeat and Destroy ISIL

Montana’s Senior Senator Questions Defense Secretary on Specific American Objectives to Combat ISIL

(U.S. Senate)-Continuing his push to ensure the fight to defeat and destroy ISIL is a global effort, Senator Jon Tester today pushed the Defense Secretary to identify specific objectives and confirm that international allies are matching America’s effort to combat terrorism.

Tester questioned Defense Secretary Ash Carter during a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.

“Before this nation increases the number of service members in harm’s way, we should know exactly what our objectives are and the level of support we have from allies across the world,” Tester said after the hearing. “We cannot continue to send American troops and taxpayer money overseas without clear and achievable objectives for how to ultimately defeat ISIL and bring our service members safely home.”

During the hearing, Tester forced Secretary Carter to outline specific objectives in the fight against ISIL.

Carter responded that within five weeks American and allied forces are working to disrupt all forms of travel and communication between ISIL fighters in Iraq and Syria, to collapse ISIL’s control of Raqqa, Syria, and to encircle Mosul, Iraq prior to retaking control of that area with Iraqi and Kurdish partners.

Tester also pushed Carter to confirm that American allies are making the same level of commitment in the fight against ISIL. Recently, President Obama announced that America will increase the number of troops on the ground by 250 in Syria and 200 in Iraq. Carter confirmed that allies are also increasing the number of troops and resources, including funds for reconstruction, on the ground in Syria and Iraq.

The Defense Department is requesting $5.3 billion to continue airstrikes, collect intelligence, and support troops on the ground in the fight against ISIL in its 2017 budget.

At today’s hearing, Secretary Carter also testified that a recent proposal by the House of Representatives to shift Overseas Contingency Operations funding into the Pentagon’s base budget is “deeply troubling” and would undermine troops at a time of war. Last year, Tester firmly opposed efforts to use the Defense Department’s Overseas Contingency Fund as an off-the-books slush fund to circumvent budget caps. Throughout this appropriations process, Tester will continue to ensure that every dollar spent is accountable and transparent.