Pentagon Chief Convenes Counter-IS Meeting, Lauds Strategy

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (AP) -

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter convened an extraordinary war council Monday on Iraq’s doorstep six days after taking office, gathering military and diplomatic leaders to discuss the Obama administration’s oft-criticized strategy for countering the Islamic State group.

He left suggesting the approach is mostly on track.

“The discussion indicated clearly to me that this group (the Islamic State) is hardly invincible,” Carter told reporters after six hours of closed-door talks with the officials he dubbed “Team America.”

He gave no indication that he that he thinks the strategy needs an overhaul.

“Our discussion this afternoon affirmed the seriousness and the complexity of the threat posed by ISIL, especially in an interconnected and networked world,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the terrorists. “Lasting defeat of this brutal group can and will be accomplished.”

Carter said the U.S.-led aerial bombing campaign in Iraq is going well, and he expressed confidence that the U.S. military is well suited to carrying out a longer-term effort to train and equip an opposition rebel force in Syria.

Carter was returning to Washington on Tuesday to meet with President Barack Obama.