- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

BALTIMORE — In the face of increasing uncertainty that the Iran deal proposed by the president will pass the Republican-controlled Congress, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said Tuesday that his military options “remain real” and that he will push forward on making sure Iran does not present a militaristic threat to the United States.

“This is a good deal, because once enforced it will remove a critical source of risk and uncertainty in an important but tumultuous region,” Mr. Carter said at the annual American Legion convention in Baltimore. “While the deal puts limits on Iran, on our end, the deal places no limits whatsoever on our military, and our military option is real and will remain real.”

He promised to protect the United States’ “friends in the region,” such as Israel, which has been outspoken against the deal.

This nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran has faced much opposition in Congress, and not just by the Republicans. A few high-profile Democrats, such as New York’s Sen. Chuck Schumer and New Jersey’s Sen. Bob Menendez, have said they will not be voting for it, which may sway any undecided Democrats against the deal.

Mr. Carter also pledged to “deliver a lasting defeat to ISIL,” another name for the Islamic State group that has been gaining traction and wreaking havoc in Iraq and Syria. His plans included training Iraqis to be the local force that the U.S. cannot afford to be, and he said airstrikes will continue to hamper the Islamic State’s movements.

Mr. Carter was appointed after Chuck Hagel resigned last year, with some speculating the former secretary of defense had come to odds with the president in part over an unwillingness to commit ground troops in Syria. Mr. Hagel hinted he was still hesitant about invading the region again.

“We must use our military carefully, wisely and judiciously,” Mr. Carter said when addressing the crowd of veterans.

He also called for Congress to stop budgetary “quick fixes” and planning for only the year ahead.

“To support today’s force and meet tomorrow’s threats, we need long-term budget certainty,” Mr. Carter said.

He cited “painful trade-offs” made when money was cut on short notice and said troops needed the best training and better compensation to keep the military effective and an all-volunteer force.

The defense secretary kept pushing his commitment to the military’s partnership with the Silicon Valley and newer technology, saying that this was his plan for the future.

“Today, the U.S. has no equal. We’re the best,” Mr. Carter said. “Damn straight.”

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