U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says he has learned first-hand the contributions being made by Fort Leonard Wood soldiers. During a recent visit to Iraq, some Iraqi soldiers told Carter that many of their warfighting skills came from Fort Leonard Wood troops.

Ash Carter (Photo courtesy of U.S. Defense Department's website)

Ash Carter (Photo courtesy of U.S. Defense Department’s website)

“They helped them cross rivers. They helped them deal with explosives and barriers and all the kinds of defenses that ISIL is trying to wrap around Mosul,” says Carter. “You want to know the here and now, the strategic significance of what goes on here, you just need to turn on your television and look at the battle from Mosul.”

Carter met Wednesday with about 100 soldiers from the Army, Marines and Air Force during his visit to Fort Leonard Wood in south-central Missouri. He also met at the base with reporters, including Missourinet affiliate KJPW radio.

He says America’s fighting around Mosul in northern Iraq is going according to plan.

“The character of the tactical situation will obviously change day to day, but it also changes as the cord gets closer the noose gets tighter and tighter around Mosul. The enemy might choose various tactics. We don’t know which ones they will, but we’re ready for anything,” says Carter.

The last U.S. Defense Secretary to visit Fort Leonard Wood was Donald Rumsfeld in 2004.