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I think it's fair to say that they still have a significant presence in Iraq and Syria. They're certainly nowhere near as strong as they were in 2017 and 2018, so they have been significantly degraded, again still maintain the ability to conduct insurgent, guerrilla-style operations and that's what they see today.
Is there a possibility -- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan've heard the political rhetoric -- that Turkey could move into northeast Syria ? There is that possibility. I don't believe that that would be helpful to our mutual interests, and I think that's why we're so focused on finding an acceptable way to address Turkey's concerns and at the same time maintain campaign continuity against ISIS in northeast Syria.
We're engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al-Mandab, and so I think probably over the next couple of weeks we'll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we'll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that'll support that.
We continue to conduct detailed military planning with the Turkish General Staff to address Turkish security concerns along the Turkey-Syria border. Planning to date has been productive and we have an initial concept that will be refined in the coming days. We are also conducting planning with other members of the Coalition who have indicated an intent to support the transition phase of operations into Syria.
I had not recommended that we leave Afghanistan because, again, in my judgment, leaving Afghanistan not only would create instability in South Asia, but in my judgment would give terrorist groups the space within which to plan and conduct operations against the American people, our homeland and our allies, and that really is the problem we are trying to solve.
That is one of the more important tasks we face, is to prioritize and allocate resources in accordance with the strategy, and... if you look at what the combatant commanders would identity as their requirements, our inventory falls short of meeting all of what the combatant commanders would want to have, so the art for us is to have enough of our forces forward to demonstrate commitment, assure our allies, to demonstrate the ability to respond -- which enhances deterrence -- and then have the inherent flexibility in the force to get the right amount of forces in the right place, at the right time in the event deterrence fails.
Many people have talked about military options [against North Korea] with words like ‘unimaginable,’ i would shift that slightly to ‘horrific.’ It would be a loss of life unlike any we have experienced in our lifetimes. Anyone who has been alive since World War II has never seen the loss of life that could occur if there is a conflict on the Korean peninsula.
So, I think for all of us, we should give Secretary Tillerson full support in attempting to resolve this diplomatically and economically, even as we recognize that it may not happen, and there may have to be a follow-up option, which is the military option, we can wring our hands and say it will never happen, or we can roll up our sleeves and make an effort to have a concerted economic and diplomatic plan that does cause KJU, Kim Jong Un, to come to the table and begin to have a conversation, at least stop the path that he’s on right now, which is further development of intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear capability. And to me it makes all the sense in the world to prove the theory of the case and to work this for a few more months.
It's my understanding that we currently have all the authorities that we need to prosecute the campaign against ISIL, but I absolutely believe that a clear and unequivocal statement of support for the men and women that are prosecuting the campaign and our allies from their elected officials would be absolutely helpful.
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