tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN December 20, 2016 7:15pm-8:01pm EST
confederation instead of one new central government. is there a case, at least as an option, to think about doing a lot more? >> i think we are doing a lot in all three of the areas you just highlighted. certainly our excellent diplomats are well engaged in cessation of hostility discussions and continue to provide a leadership role in that. we've seen that play out with secretary of state and ambassadors in the region very, very engaged, remain fully engaged in that. long-term ct interests here in yemen. i would just remind you that one of the most capable franchises of al qaeda still remains there. al qaeda in the arabian peninsula. this is an organization that has demonstrated capability to come after us in the homeland. so we have to take that seriously. certainly ongoing capability has
been a challenge for us, ongoing presence on the ground as before. i think we've been able to begin to address that. certainly our strike program, other things continues to move forward in that. i know we continue to keep pressure on that. we're working with a variety of other partners. as many of you know we worked closely with the uae a few months ago on an operation focused on al qaeda down in the mccullough area of yemen. that was very, very successful. i think this is a good example of the approach we're going to have to take and have to leverage here. we look for opportunities. we try to capitalize on that. by doing those, capitalizing, we prevail, support our interests as we move forward. then certainly working with the arab coalition we obviously are not providing intelligence support.
we're not picking targets for them. we do continue to work with saudi arabia and other partners here to help improve their processes and the way they go about this in providing some training advice of some of their general security operations. i don't know that we necessarily need to be involved in the civil conflict that's taking place there but i think all the three areas that you touched on are the areas in which we're focused on, we have to continue to look for opportunities to continue to push the gas pedal on all of those areas as they present themselves. >> so if i could now turn to iraq and syria, i want to ask you about sort of the broader strategies in both places. first i wanted to see if you wanted to share tactical updates from the fight itself, battlefield. i'm not asking you for a full, classified briefing, but if there's anything specific you want to mention that you think recently is worth highlighting, just be curious about that before getting to the broader.
>> here is the big idea. here is the big idea how we're trying to approach the campaign in iraq and syria, that is great momentum and pressure. to do it in a variety of different ways. certainly on the ground with our partners, through our targeting of key leaders in the islamic state network, through our targeting of threat -- of financial resources, looking at how we improve our capabilities to address ideology and narrative, toxic narrative that comes out of here and how we enable partners in the area to do this. so what we are trying to achieve, essentially, against -- in a broad sense, we are trying to present islamic state with a lot of dilemmas they have to deal with simultaneously. that strategy in very broad
terms, military strategy, i think is working. i think it is beginning to expose the cracks and helping us with reducing the size of the physical caliphate. there's also virtual caliphate that goes along with this that has to be addressed. and in many ways, we are doing that. and will continue in the future. that's kind of the idea. as many are tracking in iraq, the main focus is on mosul. iraq security forces under leadership of the prime minister working in very close coordination with the kurdish regional government, they have put together a plan and are executing it with the support of the coalition. it's not a perfect plan. it's their plan. we have figured out ways to bring our coalition capabilities to move them forward. they are on track with where they need to be. it will be a long fight in mosul. i would remind you if you look at the town in syria, it took us
71 days with our indigenous forces to take that area. raqqah, three times the size of that. mosul, three times the size of that. this is a huge urban area. islamic state has had a couple years to prepare their defenses. it's not going to be a cake walk. we don't want to give the impression it is. iraqis, developed a pretty good plan, executing it, making adjustments to it. and we are making adjustments as well with our support. so that will be -- that's the main focus and that's what we're trying to keep the focus on here right now. generally on track, a hard fight in front of us in mosul. in syria, we have now begun, seeing some of the isolation of the town of raqqah, there is an element of trying to synchronize both these things while our partners on the ground, iraqi security forces and indigenous
partners in syria may not be self-synchronizing between them the coalition is trying to do that. it is important to provide pressure on the town of raqqah, at the same time we're putting pressure on the town of mosul. they don't have the ability to move back and forth. i think we're seeing good effects with that. that will be a long fight as well. i would just highlight to you we've got two different forces we're working with. in iraq, we've got the iraqi army. the iraqi army. a well developed special operations capability in the form of iraqi counter-terrorism services. you've got federal police and a variety of other things there that look similar to what we have. in syria we're working with much more of an indigenous force that picks up partners on the go and requires a different way of working with them. so these are not equal forces here. they each have their advantages and disadvantages each way. what we're trying to do is make
sure our coalition capability is matched to that of our partners and continuing to focus on this idea of momentum and pressure, momentum and pressure in the islamic state in as many different as we can. >> one specific follow-up before we ask broader strategic question about those countries. it sounds like, if i heard you right, you would not want us to think in terms of a predicted date by which the mosul operation will have been concluded. you might want to encourage us to stay open minded it might be all winter, 71 days times three is much of 2017 theoretically. could this be months more time required to liberate mosul? >> i think it could be. i think it could be a couple more months. again, we'll see. the islamic state is fighting hard right now. again, you have to look at the wear and tear that they are absorbing with this. the continued strikes, pressure
we're putting on them. the inability for them to move forces between two major concentrations here and ultimately i think that will have an accelerating effect. and allow us to move a little faster. yes, i'm not in the business of giving dates for this. we're going to move at the pace of our partners and continue to kind of keep the momentum going. >> broader question about iraq before asking one on syria would be of course a lot of people have said, as tough as the fight is in mosul and you've underscored seriousness and difficulty, the number of people losing their lives, it's a serious business no doubt but people have said that's in a way the more manageable proposition compared to what follows and the day after. everyone from my colleagues, general petraeus, many others have argued it's really building that enduring multi-sectarian consensus that's going to be the challenge. and i realize that's a job for a lot of people, mostly iraqis. within the u.s. government, not just you. one part that probably is within
central command's purview, the issue of working with sunni citizens, sunni tribes to build up tribal forces, police forces or a national guard of some type that will give sunnis more a sense of controlling their own fate, protecting their own people. do you see any headway in that general proposition that will help us after the fight, not just during a fight. >> i do. admittedly, it's come a little bit late here in terms of this, but i do see some decisions taken by the prime minister lately that have provided the means to develop those sunni tribal elements to basically hold and then be part of the security plan afterwards. i do see some progress. that's certainly something we're going to have to keep our eye on and encourage moving forward. i absolutely agree with that. as we approach the plan for mosul, it wasn't about military plan. it was about military plan,
political, humanitarian aid plan. in the months leading up to this, common mantra with the coalition and our discussions with iraq and other partners here that all three of these things needed to be addressed at the same time. and while we'll continue to work on all of these, we can't -- one is not independent of the others. they are all very, very alike. i think we've tried to do as good a job as we can to link that. i'm particularly proud of the job the united nations and others have done on the humanitarian side. they are handling what they are dealing with right now. certainly again i knocked on wood here. i don't want to jinx myself. it will become more challenging as we get more into the city. they are handling it right now. they have got the right -- i will tell you there's been extraordinary level of cooperation between kurdistan and government of iraq both militarily and i would say politically.
they are talking. they are talking on a regular basis. they recognize this same concern about what happens next that we do. it's not something that's unique to us. they recognize that and they are with the help of our diplomats are continuing to address that. >> there is no progress on iraqi national guard. the progress you're talking about is primarily about police or tribal. is that fair? >> yes. >> in syria, i wanted to ask about two things. i'll put them together. one, al nusra, front for conquest, however it redefined itself and renamed itself. how are we doing against them? a lot of people are concerned even as isis' holdings shrink, the only progress against al nusra is evicting it from poor neighborhoods of aleppo being bombarded. otherwise it remains a formidable force. especially in the absence of a plan or a promising plan from my point of view to share power with sunnis in syria. looks like president assad is
trying to hold on to power, russians, iran, bosnia on his side. it doesn't seem likely he's sincere talking about a political transition. at least i don't detect any sincerity. i'm worried about the world in which we've made headway against isis but the entire sunni world is enraged against assad. maybe by that point donald trump has said things that made us seem complicit. how does that war end without constantly giving al nusra and others an opportunity to regroup? >> i think you're correctly identifying a key challenge for the upcoming administration as we look at this. in terms of al nusra to get to your question, i would agree, this is an organization we should be concerned about. this is al qaeda. they have long-term designs. so we have to be very, very concerned about that.
to the extent we can, we have been addressing al nusra, principally trying to interrupt their network through leadership interdictions and addressing some of their key capabilities that contribute to that. i think we've been, i would say, moderately successful addressing some of that. that said, these are resilient organizations. we should expect that they will respond to this. the idea of constant pressure is important, and i would just kind of bring you back to my first comment. this an organization we have to be concerned about long-term and how we address that. taking care of the islamic state is necessary, but it's not sufficient to the challenges we're facing in syria. >> i realize that president-elect trump is not yet in the white house. certainly the first advice you give him will be private, not in front of us. nonetheless, let me ask, is there a way to sustain at least
some support for those moderate insurgent groups in syria that have been our important allies, that we feel a certain, you know, commitment, loyalty, promise to, who have helped stabilize the jordanian border, done other things that however modest and local have nonetheless been important contributions and we don't want to desert because we decide to focus on like a laser beam on isis and nusra. is there a way ratcheting back, should that be administration policy, ratchet back for more questionable groups but stay local to the ones that have been good friends? >> i certainly hope so. i can think of a number of groups we are working with who have been very, very good partners to us and have done our bidding with our support, with our coalition support. i think we should look to do that. i hope that we will find a way to continue to do that. >> moving right on to iran briefly, and then we'll finish
up in south asia before we go to your questions. i want to ask a broad question about iran. any particular updates you want to give this kind of group? seems like people obviously are debating the future of the joint comprehensive plan of action. on a technical level, most people who watch it say it's being implemented reasonably well whether you like the deal or not, it's at least being complied with more or less. both sides complained about the other on specific details. anything you want to add to that overall assessment? >> i would share your assessment, from our -- not necessarily my job to monitor that, but i think it is being implemented appropriately and i think it has addressed one of the threats that we needed to be concerned about. the bigger concern for me is that the jcpoa has not changed iranian behavior. it certainly hasn't changed their regime behavior in terms of things they are doing.
the other concerns we have with the broader iranian threat problem remain, whether cyber activities, use of surrogates, whether it's their facilitation of lethal aid, the buildup of military capability, access in the region or whether it's their unprofessional and aggressive activities in the persian gulf. these are all things that remain very, very concerning to me. one of the principal interests we have in the area is choke points. the criticality of those. certainly we've been -- the straits are under close watch of iran as it spreads to other areas and what that might mean to us in the future. so i am concerned about the continued malign activity of
iran across the region. >> would you describe that level of malign activity as relatively steady since the signing and initial implementation of the joint comprehensive plan of action -- sounds like you haven't seen downtick, are you seen uptick as iran gets more resources and can sow more mischief? >> we've seen them intervene in yemen. in the country of iraq, we look at 100,000 plus shia militia group members there. i think iran has had some role in raising and developing. i think i would probably see it as a little bit of an uptick. >> let me ask about afghanistan and pakistan and open things up to others as well. on afghanistan, president obama decided to hold the force level steady at roughly 8,400. again, a few of us at brookings
with a few predecessors and friends did a paper over the summer. we suggested there should be a broad range of options considered by a new administration that could even imagine a few thousand more forces from the united states and coalition as well as maybe some expanded authorities in the use of air power. i don't know if you want to comment on whether we should have a broad review of that type that would consider multiple different options or do you feel like a steady path you're comfortable with? any broad comment on the strategy. >> nothing on cruise control in centcom. we should always be looking at what's happening and for opportunities to change the footprint whether increasing or decreasing the activities they are doing. in general we should always be looking at what's happening and assessing that. i think the president's decisions have been very fortuitous to us. the decision to stay as opposed to going down to 5,500, which is where we would generally be right now, keeping much higher
level. around 8,400, was a very wise one and i think it spent a strong message to coalition and certainly sent a strong message to the afghan forces and people of afghanistan and likewise additional authority that was granted to us i think have helped us immensely and helped us help the afghans immensely. i'm very keen to keep that going into the future as we kind of continue to assess the environment and other things we might need to do to keep the afghans going. i think afghanistan is a country worth fighting for. as a military member who went with the first wave of forces in october, 2001, i remain very hopeful about it. i know it's a very challenging environment. there's a lot of things to address there. i think it's important for us to see this through. >> how would you describe where
we are with battlefield trends in afghanistan specifically last one to two years? there was a concern taliban occupied kunduz and made way in helmand province, some areas of the east, always in flux but a little less favorable at this juncture. i haven't detected a systemic collapse. maybe 5% to 10% of the country shifted hands in terms of population and territory. i don't know if that's a fair assessment or any way you would describe last two years. >> i would describe it as equilibrium in favor of the government right now. as you point out, there's been a number of attempts here by the taliban. it's been part of their strategy to try to seize a population center, certainly attempted it a number of times, maybe seven or eight times since august. while they may have gained some initial success and foothold, the afghan forces with support of the coalition i think has been successful in addressing
that and bringing back under control of the government. i am concerned about the casualty rates afghans are taking and we are addressing that. i think as we look now to move from one season to another here, we will -- john nicholson has done an excellent job on how we refit and address these challenges with our capabilities to keep afghans moving forward. so i think they are holding their own. as president ghani described to me, 2015 was a year of survival. and they did. this has been a year of solidifying that a little more. there's a challenging situation out there. i agree with you, that does fluctuate back 5% or 6% a little either way but better part of 60% is under the control of the government of of afghanistan.
5% to 10% under direct control of taliban and the rest is contested territory that we're going to have to continue to work over. >> any impressions, i realize this may be getting into a detailed question best to ask general nicholson but i'm sure you thought about it, too, any change in trends in security forces. >> i think it is improving. i'm very encouraged by my interactions with the chief of defense and minister of defense, who i think are serious individuals or well experienced and are looking at things not just from a good tactical sense but value sense. it's not just what you do but how you do things. so i'm very encouraged by that. i think the police are in an area where we will need to continue to look at. i'm encouraged by some of the things that the president is doing to address corruption in the ranks. there has been the removal of some corrupt military leaders in the past.
i think that's well received. i think it sends exactly the right message that needs to be sent. not only forces but those of us who are contributing to the effort. >> my last question will be on pakistan. it's a big country and a big challenge and just going to ask one big broad question. you can go wherever you wish with it, which is sort of overall trend in afghanistan. there's certainly hopeful elements it would seem in the sense of the transition in the military leadership that's been on schedule. there's been ongoing civilian leadership that hasn't been overturned by a coup. there's also continued pakistani tolerance or even support at times, as i understand it, for the taliban. of course in the east to finally extend your zone of immediate concern and responsibility but to go right up to the border with india, there is sort of a low-grade ongoing skirmish with india right now. how would you describe overall trends in u.s. security relations with pakistan at the
moment? >> again, this is a relationship extraordinary and complex but one vital to us and has its ebbs and flows. we may be have been for the last couple of years in -- at a lower point than we've been at the past but i think this is a relationship we have to have and we have to maintain as we move forward. i'm encouraged by the transfer of leadership that's taken place here. i think it was good. again, there are a lot of potential ways that could have gone. i think it went the way we would hope it would have went. i look forward to talking to the general in the next couple of days and beginning to develop our relationship with him as we move forward. i think it's important with all of our partners across the region here that we take the time to talk with them and listen to what they are telling us and to make sure we understand the situation with granularity.
we can't always look at things through our american eyes all the time. we have to understand what their concerns are, what their interests are. we have to look at how we try to balance that. as you point out, it's a critical balance. they are very concerned about what is happening on their indian border and kashmir and certainly what's happening federal -- we're concerned about that. we have to look at how we balance that back and forth with them. so it will remain a challenge, complex relationship but a vital relationship as we move forward. >> thank you. remarkable breadth of expertise. i'm honored to have had a chance to ask questions. start in the back. please wait for a mike and identify yourself before asking general votel a question. >> with bloomberg news. what are the geopolitical and military implications if the
u.s. abrogates the iran and nuclear deal. >> tony, thanks for the question. i mean, i'm not sure what all the ramifications of that are. as you know, that's an agreement that was put in place by a number of nations. so again, i won't presume on that. i mean, i'm not sure what all the ramifications of that are. i mean, i don't know, i don't know. i think it's addressing a concern right now. so, i don't know what that would mean and how it would be absorbed by iran if we do did that. so i think we'll just have to wait to see what the -- [ inaudible ] >> i think we're always concerned about those types of things and not just in nuclear arms, but conventional arms and a race that is -- that is not helpful to anything that we're trying to do here. so, you know, this is something we'll, we'll continue to watch
here as we move forward, but i, i think we just have, i think -- we have to let the new administration get in place here and get up to speed on what's actually happening. i'm confident that we have the ability to provide input to that. >> kevin? there's a microphone. in the middle. thanks. >> kim dozier. with the daily beast. the incoming administration signalled it would work with russia to find a resolution to the conflict in syria. they have had professional military relations in the past. a lot of cooperation. what would that sort of cooperation look like to -- could russian forces help deconflict assad's forces and could force irregulars and keep them apart from u.s. operations. could you give us an idea?
>> the deconfliction piece takes place right now. we have a mechanism to do that and it is -- it supports our efforts. it's not coordination, it's not collaboration, it is deconfliction. and it is about assuring safety of our coalition forces on the ground. and i think that, that works. i think that is working for us right now. we have to look at that and keep that properly updated. again, this is a political decision that may or may not be addressed. so, you know, as a military professional, we'll take a look at what, what happens here and we'll look at how we adjust to that particular situation. in they were -- terms of the
deconfliction, that occurs right now. [ inaudible ] >> it sure does, and in fact it is, it is, it's already a challenge for us. i mean, this is northern syria and air space over it is a congested area. and so we are finding our way through that right now. through our deconfliction process. i again, this is something, we're very concerned about supporting our military objectives. we're also concerned about supporting and keeping our forces safe. and we'll look at how we do that if there are some changes in how we do this. >> go over here please and i'll go back there. >> thank you for the opportunity to speak.
general, a question concerning iran again. there have been reports iran is advancing not through military ways, but in politics and culture in latin america. what are the plans, if any, to counter this advance? >> thanks. i would, i think that question is probably better answered by admiral -- our u.s. southcom commander. but this i think highlights the concern about iran. and i think we have to look at -- we can't confine our look at iran through just the nuclear program or this or that. we have to look at what they're attempting to do. iran has a place in the world, and iran has a place in the region. but when that plays out in malign ways, in ways that create friction, in ways that create conflict and add to instability, that's not helpful.
and we have to look at what that role is going forward. and that includes things that may be taking place here in our own hemisphere. i think these are things to be concerned and certainly are things to be discussed. and so, i favor looking at the challenges and the threats we face out there in a more holistic fashion. that would include looking at what you suggest. >> in the back row here, please. >> laura jarrett, cnn. general, in paris, defense secretary carter spoke about the joint special operations command taking on an expanded role in fighting external isis threats. can you shed any light on what they will do or how it would help the fight and just what is the external isis threat these days? >> thanks.
i hate to kind of give this thing again. that's a really great question for the socom commander. and i would encourage when you have the opportunity to ask about that. but i think what the secretary talked about, there is, as we talked about a little bit earlier, the islamic state isn't just limited to iraq and syria. and most of these violent extremists organizations aren't just limited to specific geographic areas. they do have influence, they do use virtual means to put out a toxic narrative, to try to influence people, to try to, you know, create disruption and conflict in other areas. i think we have to look at the threats and we can't limit ourselves to specific areas. and i think what the secretary is talking about is making sure that we have a process both in the military and across the broader government that allows us to look at this much more holistically and to bring the power of all of our capabilities. our diplomatic power, our
military power, our intelligence community power. our informational power, our economic power to really address these issues. these aren't just military problems. these are, have to be addressed in a variety of different ways. i think what the secretary is talking about is a process and a way of looking at these problems that brings it together and, you know, and one thing we have within the department of defense, that looks at this particular problem. that has forces around the globe that has capabilities and can be a leader in how we pull all of this together. >> eric, front row, please. sorry to get you your exercise. >> eric schmidt with the "new
york times," thank you. on afghanistan, this 40% or so of the territory that's either contested or held by the taliban. to what extent are you concerned that regional or international terrorist organizations are taking advantage of that contested space to take over, be it al qaeda, isis or some other groups? >> i'm very concerned. i think as you look at -- you look at the 98 violent extremist organizations that our department of state has identified and has designated terrorist organizations out there. and as you look into the afghanistan, pakistan region, you'll find 20 of them. 13 of them are specifically present in afghanistan. i think we have to be concerned about this. and the taliban pulling together and cooperating and collaborating with other terrorist organizations is something we should be -- we should be concerned about. i am concerned about that. i am concerned about how these voids are filled. and how we address and provide the pressure and incentives for them not to grow roots in these particular areas.
and i think that's something we'll have to continue to contend with here in places like afghanistan. >> we have about five more minutes. let's see if we can get a couple more questions in. we'll go here and then over there and finish up here if we have time for all three. three. >> my name is russell king. to what extent are the battles in the middle east driven by the fact we've got all these terrorist incidents in europe. is there like a coalition of the willing? nirks ra in iraq, the coalition of the willing, but what are the nato countries doing in -- >> yeah, exactly. i mean, we've got a coalition of 5 2 countries here contributing on a regular basis to all our operations in iraq and syria and doing it in a variety of ways. some contribute by supporting bases. some contribute by providing economic resources.
some supported by providing military capabilities to this. so i think as i look at -- excuse me just a second. let me take a drink so i don't -- i think the european nations understand this. one of the things we've seen is this heavy movement of refugees that have moved from places like syria, that have moved across southern europe into the -- so they get that aspect of it and are concerned about it and want to address it. our partners, particularly our european partners, have been extraordinarily cooperative and collaborative in what we're doing. and they are as concerned about this as we are because they have seen these attacks, whether they are directed, whether they're inspired, influenced, taking place in their capitals just like we've seen them taking place in some of our cities as
well. they are very concerned about that. and i think that does motivate them to continue to be contributing members of the coalition. so i think we'll continue to capitalize on that. >> right here please in the front row. green shirt. >> my name is alexa hopkins. how do you think the recent integration into the iraqi army will affect the future of the u.s.' ability to coordinate activities with the iraqi army? >> i think it sounds on, you know, just unvarnished, it sounds pretty challenging that we'll increase a lot of shia influence over the government of iraq and we have to be concerned about that. i'm not sure, however, that the last shoe has fallen on that. i think there are still discussions. there are certainly a lot that has to be done in terms of how
that is implemented. as my reading of this, this isn't just limited to shia, but it is shia/sunni and how that gets put together by the government of iraq, i think, will be a very important thing for us to watch. we are concerned about that. others in the region are concerned about that. but i think we'll have to work with our government of iraq partners in trying to shape that a little bit. >> very last question here in the back. >> with the hill. president-elect trump has said he'd ask his generals for a plan to defeat isis within his first 30 days. has that planning begun, and what might be done differently that's not already being done? and where might we be in the fight when he does take office? thank you. >> again, i -- the president-elect has to be inaugurated and he becomes president and gives us
direction. because that's what we do. nothing is on cruise control with anything that we do in central command and really across the department of defense. so we're always looking at ways we can move forward, accelerate, do things better, be more effective against our enemies. so we've -- we read the papers. i'm thinking about things and how we might do this as well. so, yeah, there's certainly a lot of thought that's gone into this and we'll be prepared to do that. i don't want to get out in front of the new administration. i want them to have the opportunity to come in and look at the situation and give us the strategic direction they need and then we'll as military professionals provide them the best military advice on how we get there with that. >> well, please join me in -- >> can i exercise my prerogative and ask that we go to this group over there? >> if you have time, absolutely. >> i'd be happy to take a question or two from this group because you guys are -- >> that's a great way. these two gentlemen almost next
to each other. we'll take them together and give you one last -- thank you. >> thank you for having us. i'm jack donahue from the alexander hamilton society. my question is about russia. russia has drawn a clear line in the sand in syria. putin has invested in blood and treasure and saying that he's not going to let the regime fall. made that very clear by directly attacking rebel groups that the united states is backing. so at that point, what can we expect to accomplish in terms of supporting rebels that are attacking the regime without leading to a larger scale conflict with russia? and in a broader scale, do you see russia's momentum gaining given that after crimea, ukraine and now their success in syria, and given trump's kind of statements that he's going to be drawn back, do you see russia expanding in this area or in other areas? >> okay. let me just beg off on your comment about the new administration here. i don't think it's appropriate
for me to comment on that. but let me just say this. i think we concerned about what russia is doing. it's always been a little bit of a mystery for me exactly what they are trying to accomplish here. i take your note on the fact they inadvertently struck one of the groups we control. we have addressed that with them. so i think this will be something we'll have to pay attention to and again, this is very complicated in terms of how we address this. the activities that russia has supported on behalf of the regime are horrendous. the atrocities being perpetrated against the people of aleppo should concern all of us. and it's certainly something that has to be taken into consideration as we look to address that relationship.
again, as we talked about earlier, i'm very hopeful that we will be able to maintain relationship with some of these groups that we've been able to support. >> one more from my blind side or -- >> sure. >> and then we'll finish with that. >> thank you. drake long from miami university of ohio. also with hamilton society. i'd like to ask you, you mentioned transregionalism. with operation euphrates shield, turkey has entered the civil war. what do we know about the military's goals, the turkish military's goals and their capabilities since this is so unprecedented? and how we are incorporating their actions n into our overall strategy? >> thanks for bringing that up. let me just start by saying that turkey is a nato ally to us. they are an extraordinarily important partner in the coalition. we simply could not do the things we're doing, particularly in syria, without the support we get from turkey on a day-to-day basis with base, access,
overflight, with the support that they provide to us. like others in the region, turkey has interest and concerns. and it's important for us to recognize this. certainly very concerned about the islamic state but it is, i think fairly well established and very concerned about organizations like the pkk and what that might portend for long-term security and stability for them. and i think you see some of that taking place in the operations. the operations they did along their border, i think, were very helpful to us. they took care of an islamic state enclave that exists along there. they did it effectively with the coalition support and working with some opposition elements. so this is a nato country. their capabilities are well developed. they have been for a while. it's a country we've had a long military relationship with and
we hope to continue to have that in the future. i think it's important to recognize what their other concerns and interests are and again, it highlights the complexity of what we're dealing with here. as we enter more and more into the heart of the caliphate, rauc amo -- raqqah, mosul. we should expect we'll have these challenges and we're going to do this. it's a combination of diplomatic discussions and military discussions back and forth to make sure that we are trying to operate as much as we can in collaboration, coordination with each other toward common goals. at this point toward defeating the islamic state. with a recognition there are other things that will have to be addressed in the long run. that's a long way of saying this is an extraordinary complex environment. turkey has interest there. great partners. we couldn't do what we do without them. and by the way, they are a nato ally.
and that means a lot to us. we can never forget that. >> thank you, general. please join me in thanking him. [ applause ] coming up -- programs from the emerging civil war blogs conference on great attacks of the civil war. next, a look at civil war battle tactics. then historians examine key battles. the 1863 battle of chickamauga. after that, the battle of the wilderness in northern virginia. and later, the battle of spotsylvania courthouse. next author david powell talks about civil war battle tactics and