NATO chiefs recommend joining anti-ISIS coalition

NATO chiefs recommend joining anti-ISIS coalition
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The top military officers of NATO are recommending the alliance become part of the international coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“The chiefs of defense’s recommendation is that there’s some merit for NATO becoming a member of that coalition,” Gen. Petr Pavel, chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, said Wednesday following a committee meeting.

The meeting, which included U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, was to set the stage for next week’s heads of state meeting. President Trump will make his NATO debut at next week’s meeting.

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Every country in NATO is a member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS, but NATO as its own entity is not.

Trump previously criticized NATO as “obsolete,” in part because he said he believes it has not done enough to fight terrorism. But last month, he said the alliance was “no longer obsolete” after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Pavel reiterated that NATO has been fighting terrorism for years and that the only time the mutual defense clause known as Article 5 has been invoked was after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.

But he acknowledged NATO could do more. As part of the coalition, NATO could help train Iraqi forces and build up local institutions, he said.

“If NATO is to step up their efforts in Iraq by individuals or tens or hundreds, I will not tell you at this point, but there is general agreement that NATO can, and should do more, especially by stepping up efforts in training, capacity building, institution building, exercises to increasing home capabilities,” he said.

“That means the kinds of activities where NATO has not only good reputation but also a lot of expertise and experience.”

Pavel, though, said he does not see the alliance taking on a command-and-control responsibility in the way it did for the war in Afghanistan.

“We can expect it will be long lasting activity, a long lasting partnership with Iraq, as well as with many other countries in the region, but I don’t see it necessarily as kind of mission similar to Resolute Support,” he said, referring to the NATO mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces.