Mattis: US military advantage over China and Russian Federation 'eroding'

Defense Secretary James Mattis speaks about the National Defense Review Friday in Washington

Trump: Military Funding Top Priority in Avoiding Government Shutdown

"We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists, but great power competition - not terrorism - is now the primary focus of USA national security", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in prepared remarks at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

The new defense strategy was written at the same time as the national security strategy that President Trump released in December, and flows from the president's vision of "peace through strength, " Colby said.

While making clear that U.S. troops would continue to perform their duties at home and deployed overseas, Mattis said that over 50% of the civilian workforce would not come to work and that maintenance operations and the training of reservist troops would be affected.

One of the biggest criticisms inside the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill is that the U.S. military is suffering from a lack of readiness, where troops and gear are not getting the training or maintenance they need.

Mattis's deputy, Patrick Shanahan, last month told Pentagon reporters that the exclusion of climate change from the national defense strategy does not necessarily mean the Pentagon does not see it as a threat. "It's going better than expected", Mattis said Friday.

"China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea", the document reads.

"To those who would threaten America's experiment in democracy: If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day", he said.

The strategy also emphasizes "strengthening alliances as we attract new partners", while reforming the Pentagon's business practices for greater performance and affordability.

And it underscores American concerns about Russia's aggressive military moves, including the invasion of Ukraine and involvement in the Syria war, as well as its meddling in the 2016 election.

"This strategy really represents a fundamental shift to say, look, we have to get back, in a sense, to the basics of the potential for war and this strategy says the focus will be on prioritizing preparedness for war, in particular major power war", Colby added.

Cineworld Group Plc (CINE.L) Seeing Increased Volatility in Session
Barrow Hanley Mewhinney & Strauss Llc increased Federal Signal Corp (FSS) stake by 993% reported in 2017Q3 SEC filing. Checchi Capital Advisers Limited Liability Co holds 0.06% or 2,947 shares. 115,300 were reported by Robotti Robert.

Previous defense chiefs long warned about China, and the Obama administration put a greater focus on the Asia-Pacific region, including by adding ships and troops.

The new strategy is "fit for our time", Mattis said.

"This is not 1999, when some would say the US can do everything by itself", Colby said.

The new National Defense Strategy describes the United States as "emerging from a period of strategic atrophy", and assesses the United States must make a sustained financial investment in the military to overcome it.

The Mattis strategy, by contrast, calls for a small carrot and a large stick, saying, "We continue to seek areas of cooperation with China and Russian Federation based on shared concerns, but we will thwart their use of coercion and intimidation to advance their goals and harm U.S. Interests".

Mattis named the rogue regimes in North Korea and Iran as top threats as well.

Mattis attributed that erosion of readiness to "the longest continuous stretch of combat in our nation's history and defense spending caps, because we have been operating also for nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions that have created an overstretched and under-resourced military". That plan, however, will face grim budget hurdles.

Mattis said that the USA military's competitive edge has eroded "in every domain of warfare" and blamed that partly on spending caps and congressional budget dysfunction.

The White House announced in a statement that it would be holding a media briefing on Friday over the possible government shutdown, as legislators struggled to keep the United States government funded. They're still constrained by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which put mandatory spending caps in place.

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. Congress has repeatedly rejected additional base closings.

Latest News