Pentagon bolsters intel sharing with France

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The Pentagon is stepping up intelligence sharing with the French military, which will better allow France to help choose airstrike targets following terrorist attacks across Paris that killed more than 120.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper provided new instructions to enable U.S. military personnel to more easily share operational planning information and intelligence with their French counterparts, the Pentagon said Monday.

“In the wake of the recent attack on France, we stand strong and firm with our oldest ally, which is why the U.S. and France have decided to bolster our intelligence sharing,” Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said.

{mosads}The intelligence sharing would cover a “range of shared challenges” to the “fullest extent allowed by existing law and policy,” he added. 

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the intelligence sharing would help France “be more involved in the targeting process for coalition airstrikes.”

Davis said Monday the two nations already share some intelligence, but this step “moves a lot of procedural limitations.”

Davis also said that the plan to increase intelligence sharing was already in the works “for awhile,” but was accelerated after the Paris attacks. 

A sample of the new intelligence sharing procedures was seen on Sunday morning, when France unleashed a barrage of airstrikes on targets in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa in Syria.

The new guidance comes after two phone conversations over the weekend between Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. 

During those conversations, the two “agreed on concrete steps the U.S. and French militaries should take to further intensify our close cooperation in prosecuting a sustained campaign” against ISIS, according to a readout. 

The Pentagon in recent weeks has pledged to intensify its air campaign, and began an operation to target ISIS’s illicit oil trade, which brings in millions to fund the terrorist group’s activities.

On Sunday, the U.S.-led military coalition launched 10 airstrikes, including one near Abu Kamal that destroyed 116 fuel trucks operated by ISIS.

Leading hawks in Congress are calling for even stronger measures against the terrorist group. 

On Monday, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a presidential contender, called for American boots on the ground in the fight against ISIS, to bolster a regional ground force made up of Arab allies. 

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Dem on the Senate Intelligence Committee, has also called for stronger measures. 

Although the Pentagon has roughly 3,500 U.S. troops in Iraq and now several dozen in Syria, President Obama continued to reject calls to put more U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria. 

Doing so would be a “mistake,” he said during a press conference in Turkey on Monday.

–This report was updated at 4:02 p.m.

Tags Dianne Feinstein Iraq Iraqi Civil War Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant John McCain Lindsey Graham Operation Inherent Resolve Syrian civil war

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