Heading to Europe, Pentagon chief to boost military support

Washington: Heading to Europe, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is carrying a strong message of U.S. military support for American allies and Baltic nations to help calm growing concerns about Russian actions, AP/UNB reported.
A key theme at all his stops will be how the United States, NATO and other partners can best deal with the Kremlin in the wake of Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region and its military backing of separatists battling Ukraine’s government on the eastern border.
Officials said Carter, who was leaving Washington on Sunday, plans to encourage allied ministers to better work together in countering threats facing Europe. His talks are sure to draw the ire of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose economy is hurting due to low oil prices and U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia for its actions in Ukraine.
At a NATO meeting, defense ministers will discuss plans to involve the alliance more officially in the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq. According to U.S. officials, NATO leaders will consider providing ministry-level advice and other training assistance in Iraq. Carter also intends to talk with counterparts about a U.S. proposal to send to Eastern Europe enough tanks, Humvees and other military equipment to outfit one brigade for exercises and other training programs.