Combatant command senior enlisted leaders discussed operations against terrorists in their areas, the state of forces and what noncommissioned officers bring to the table internationally during a Pentagon news conference yesterday. Army Command Sgt. Major John W. Troxell, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hosted the event at the end of the second day of a Defense Senior Enlisted Leader Council conference.
The senior NCOs discussed the global fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopezsaid ISIS is a problem in U.S. Africa Command's area of operations.
"With regards to the spread of ISIS, pretty much everything that you're getting on open source is what we're seeing," the chief said. "You have flows of foreign fighters that went from Africa to fight in Iraq and Syria, and they're coming back. And our job right now is to be able to contain them and keep the pressure on the network to prevent further spread."
The continent is an attractive area for the terror group. Colon-Lopez noted that more than 50 percent of Africa's population is under 24 years old, and many have no viable future. Also, he said, many African countries have weak governments that are unable to extend control into all parts of their nations, and ISIS is drawn to those areas.
Africom is concerned about the spread not only of ISIS, but also of other violent extremist groups, Colon-Lopez said. Reporters asked U.S. Special Operations Command senior enlisted leader Army Command Sgt. Maj. Patrick L. McCauley on the possible overuse of special operators in the last 16 years of war. McCauley said the force is at a sustainable level across the globe now, "but that doesn't come easily."