Top US military official: NATO can handle Russia, Islamic State at same time

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has enough strength to deal with the Islamic State and deter Russia at the same time, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told a conference in Istanbul.

“Russia has fielded military capabilities that – were they to have an intent to do harm to the alliance – they would have the capability to do so,” Dempsey said on Friday, according to a Department of Defense report.

However, the U.S.-led NATO retained sufficient strength to deal with Russia as well as the Islamists, Dempsey continued. “NATO is big enough and powerful enough and stable enough to be able to deal with both threats at the same time,” the most high-ranking U.S. military official said.

Dempsey was in Turkey to attend a NATO Military Committee meeting to be held on Saturday.

“[W]hat we’re seeing is a period of time where we can have the tendency to look at one threat for a while and then we look at the other threat for a while,” Dempsey explained. “Frankly we got to keep our eye on both threats over time.”

Dempsey noted that the rise of the Islamic State was due to such factors as widespread instability, disenfranchised groups and ethnic and religious conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, the report added.

“The underlying issues that allowed [the Islamic State] to be created or to create itself are not going to be resolved in the near term,” Dempsey noted. “NATO has on its southern flank that non-state threat, and what that particular threat requires is us to look transregionally.”

The NATO conference in Istanbul will discuss the European immigration crisis and the alliance’s mission in Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department. (PNA/Sputnik)