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Watch: Mattis divulges on National Defense Strategy in rare sit down interview

U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis during a news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on Nov. 6, 2017. (Matti Matikainen/Xinhua/Sipa USA/TNS)
October 30, 2018
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Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is speaking today at the U.S. Institute of Peace to discuss the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

Watch his remarks below:

The strategy is the first National Defense Strategy in more than a decade. It also shifts a greater focus onto the threats of China and Russia.

“Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department, and require both increased and sustained investment, because of the magnitude of the threats they pose to U.S. security and prosperity today, and the potential for those threats to increase in the future,” the strategy says.

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“Concurrently, the Department will sustain its efforts to deter and counter rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran, defeat terrorist threats to the United States, and consolidate our gains in Iraq and Afghanistan while moving to a more resource-sustainable approach,” it adds.

“We will strengthen and evolve our alliances and partnerships into an extended network capable of deterring or decisively acting to meet the shared challenges of our time. We will focus on three elements for achieving a capable alliance and partnership network,” the strategy says.

It then outlines the three pillars of the U.S. approach to defense: creating a more lethal military force, building and strengthening global alliances, and reforming Pentagon practices to improve performance and affordability.

“Today, America’s military reclaims an era of strategic purpose and we’re alert to the realities of a changing world and attentive to the need to protect our values and the countries that stand with us,” Mattis said of the strategy in January.

“America’s military protects our way of life and I want to point out it also protects a realm of ideas. It’s not just about protecting geography. This is a defense strategy that will guide our efforts in all realms,” Mattis added.

The defense strategy recognized a dangerous erosion of U.S. military capabilities and sought to address them in the face of modern threats. Some of this erosion is attributed to 17 years of war in Afghanistan

The strategic global partnerships and emphasis on strengthening the military lead back to the “America-first” policy promoted in the defense strategy.

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“Reinforcing America’s traditional tools of diplomacy, the Department provides military options to ensure the President and our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength,” the strategy says.

Mattis has played a key role in strengthening the U.S. position and its global partnerships during his time in the Trump Administration, having visited at least 58 states so far to meet with counterparts and other senior officials, according to the Defense Department.

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