Mattis Traveling to SE Asia, Amid Shift in Pentagon Strategy

Bessie Dean
January 22, 2018

Presenting the new strategy - which will set priorities for the Pentagon for years to come - Defence Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday called China and Russian Federation "revisionist powers" that "seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models".

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in a speech releasing the strategy, called the new approach "fit for our time".

"Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country's ability to serve all Americans", the White House said in a statement. We in the Department of Defense will continue carrying out our fundamental responsibility to defend our Nation and the American people.

The Pentagon strategy acknowledges the budget limits, and calls for greater spending discipline and management, as well as a commitment to again seek more base closings to save money.

He declared the defeat of the Islamic State group's "physical caliphate" in Iraq and Syria, but warned that IS, al-Qaida and other extremists continue as threats across the globe.

Worldwide alliances are also highlighted as a key piece of the strategy, but Mattis said burden-sharing would be needed. He chastised lawmakers for acting like "spectators" in the budget fight and not doing right by the serving men and women of the US military.

The defence secretary said while the U.S. was "still strong", its competitive edge had "eroded in every domain of warfare - air, land, sea, space and cyberspace - and is continually eroding".

There is a clear need to reduce the pressures on United States forces and focus on the core challenges which matter most to us and to support those actions by our core allies who are protecting themselves against what they think are their core threats as well.

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If the government shuts down, the military is considered essential and would still report for duty, United States officials have said. And there is a strategic game the USA has not been playing as all this change occurred. Deterring adversaries and maintaining regional power balances in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere is another.

Mattis said that a shutdown would affect many military operations, including training, maintenance, and intelligence gathering.

"In the past two years alone, we have enacted significant bipartisan reforms to streamline bureaucracy at the Pentagon, strengthen the military health care and retirement systems, and improve congressional oversight". "For every satellite up, we'll have a hundred more that could launch as fast as they're taken out", he said. "We will support USA interagency approaches and work by, with, and through our allies and partners to secure our interests and counteract this coercion". Failures of Marine Corps aircraft in the Pacific and even at home have cost the lives of Marines and Sailors in incidents that can be attributed to this lack of rotational maintenance, as many other US assets have already been pulled out of use due to budget shortfalls. But the Pentagon must also do its part to ensure that when fiscal relief arrives, there is a thoughtful strategy in place commensurate with the multitude of threats assailing the United States today.

"To succeed in the emerging security environment, our department and joint force will have to out-think, out-maneuver, out-partner, and out-innovate revisionist powers, rogue regimes, terrorists, and other threat actors", the report says.

While having a large force is vital for the USA military, Mattis emphasized capabilities as the predominant effort of US forces so that they can modernize and fight in the space and cyberspace domain of warfare.

Pentagon business practices that have resulted in large cost overruns and arms acquisition inefficiencies also will be improved, he said. I know our Nation can count on you. You all can recite it from memory.

The strategy, summarized in an 11-page unclassified version released Friday, is the first of its kind in a decade and outlines a vision for restoring the military's combat readiness, which Mattis said has been depleted by 16 years of continuous war and years of budget instability.

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