Today, Congress took an important step forward in making sure that we’re developing the capabilities necessary to make America safer.
As the President’s Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Advisor, I welcome the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee markup of the FY 2015 Defense Appropriations Act. Its ultimate passage would allow us to move forward on a number of priority national security initiatives, including the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF).
As President Obama announced during his West Point speech in May, this new fund will help us take the fight to terrorist organizations by strengthening the capacity of our friends on the frontlines. The CTPF presents a new, sustainable model for strategic engagement with our partners from South Asia to the Sahel. Because today’s principal terrorist threats no longer emanate from al-Qa’ida central leadership but from an evolving and decentralized set of actors, we need the flexibility to develop tailored regional solutions to terrorist groups that pose the greatest threat to the United States, wherever they are located.
These funds would allow us to train, equip, advise, and operationally enable our partners to counter them — ultimately leading us to rely less on U.S. forces and more on our frontline allies. The CTPF would also support long-term security sector and governance initiatives, because we know that our counterterrorism success over the long run ultimately depends on partnering with and developing professional and accountable security forces and supporting institutions.
I also applaud the inclusion of new authorities related to Syria that would allow us to more effectively partner with appropriately vetted members of the moderate Syrian armed opposition. Importantly, this train and equip mission could help us to better protect Syrian civilians, pressure the regime, and counter terrorist threats emanating from the country’s contested and ungoverned areas — including from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
In a turbulent and uncertain world, the Senate today took an important step forward in providing vital tools to help our military and counterterrorism professionals confront this challenge.