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Mattis: US will grow ‘lethality’ of force; focus on ‘growing threats’ Russia and China in new national defense strategy

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has a discussion with others. (Jim Mattis/Flickr)
January 19, 2018

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday announced the U.S. military’s 2018 defense strategy at the Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

In what was the United States’ first National Defense Strategy in a decade, Mattis addressed a number of concerns the military faces and what needs to be done to address those concerns. The United States military must push the policy of presenting peace through strength, according to Mattis.

Mattis said the U.S. military would continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorism, but said the United States faces “growing threats” from revisionist powers such as Russia and China, and that they are the primary concerns for the U.S. military.

“Great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” Mattis said.

“If you challenge us, it will be your longest and worst day,” Mattis said, referring to threats the United States faces.

Mattis said that U.S. defense strategy will also be shaped around halting rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea.

The defense secretary said the advantage that the United States military has on foreign threats such as Russia and China is diminishing, as the United States’ power on the air, land, sea, space and cyberspace is continuing to erode.

“We have no room for complacency and history makes clear that America has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield,” Mattis said.

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

Mattis emphasized three important strategies for the military’s 2018 defense strategy: having a more lethal force to defend our country, strengthening alliances and forming new partnerships with other nations, and reforming the business practices of the Pentagon.

“The nation must feel sufficient capable forces to fight conflicts,” Mattis said, speaking on the lethality of U.S. forces.

Mattis said the military will also be designed to train and fight alongside allies to keep peace and win in war, and do their fair share to fight against threats.

Speaking on the business practices of the Pentagon, Mattis said the United States military must reap “full benefit of every dollar spent in defense spending,” this way senior leadership can consolidate or restructure the military.

Mattis said budgetary confusion has led to a failure in lethality.

“We need Congress back in the driver’s seat for budget decisions instead of in the spectator seat for budget control acts,” Mattis said.

There needs to be bipartisan investment to meet readiness challenges, Mattis added.