Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mattis ‘Heartened’ by NATO Nations’ Increased Defense Budgets

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2018 — Global democracies are working together, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said yesterday to reporters traveling with him as he wrapped up a European trip to reaffirm key partnerships and alliances.

The secretary’s travels included meetings with defense leaders in Rome, taking part in this year’s first meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels, attending the 54th Annual Munich Security Conference in Germany, and meetings with leaders and troops from U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command.

The Defense Department has three lines of effort that include creating stronger alliances by working by, with and through partner nations, Mattis told reporters.

To that effort, “NATO remains our No. 1 alliance,” he said, adding that he was heartened at the ministerial by various nations’ continued increased defense budgets.

“[Just] to look around that room and see 29 nations all working together … you have to remember the fundamental strength of that alliance,” the secretary said.

Visits to Combatant Command

Mattis called Eucom a “very focused outfit,” and said his visit with troops and leaders there shows the “degree of rapport we maintain through thick and thin.”

In his visit to Africom, the secretary discussed with leaders the elements supported across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Horn of Africa to stop violent extremists. It is by and through allies and partners there that those efforts continue, he emphasized.

At the 54th Munich Security Conference, Europe’s largest security conference, the secretary said he saw a much stronger European focus on defense.

Defense Budgets Climb

While many of the democracies at the conference are coming out of challenging economic times, he said, “you see the defense portfolios being raised everywhere.”

Germany keeps a strong balance in its form of government between development and defense, Mattis said, adding that he endorses and supports it. “Americans continue to put out hundreds of millions of dollars a year, billions total, in development funding. [We] all do it our own way, but what you see, again, are democracies working together,” he said.

Bilateral Talks

The secretary said he held bilateral talks with the defense leaders of several nations, including Georgia and Ukraine.

“We stand with them on their territorial integrity,” he said of those two nations. “Both of those countries have territory occupied by illegal Russian forces or Russian-supported forces. So in both those cases, we stand with them in term of international law, in terms of strengthening their government-reform efforts, especially, in my case [where] I work with their ministries of defense.”

Mattis said he appreciates those nations’ “full-fledged” efforts.

“They came out from underneath Soviet domination. They went through the gathering of freedom without many of the internal controls that we in the West enjoy, and they're now having to go through the reform effort to try to put in place the kind of things that you and I take for granted,” Mattis said.

“So we talked at some length about the reform efforts, and what we can do to assist them. We are very responsive to their needs. That's the way we do it,” he said.

Mattis: New Policy Cracks Down On Force Deployability

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2018 — The Defense Department has a “higher expectation” of deployability by its forces, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said yesterday.

Speaking with reporters on a return flight from Germany to Washington, the secretary said the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness last week defined a problem that initially was brought to his attention by the Army, where “many non-deployables were on their rolls.”

Aside from combat-injured personnel who are in a separate category, Mattis said, the issue concerns service members “who are, just for one reason or another, not able to deploy with their units. It was a significant number, and the Army brought their concerns forward. The other services also highlighted [their] concerns.”

New Policy

DoD’s office of personnel and readiness has “come out with a policy that if you're not deployable for a year or more, you're going to have to go somewhere else,” he said.

As an example, Mattis said, if 10,000 troops out of 100,000 are not deployable, that means 90,000 deploy more often to meet the same deployment standard.

“That's unfair,” he said.

The secretary talked about a service member who is on his sixth deployment in 11 years.

“When that sort of thing happens, that brings sharply into focus that some people are carrying more than the share of the load that I want them to carry,” he said.

“They need time at home,” Mattis emphasized. “They need time with their families. We may enlist solders, [but] we re-enlist families. That's the way it is. If you can't keep the family together, then you're either going to lose the family or you're going to lose the soldiers, and that's a net loss for our society and for our military. [We] put a lot of training into people nowadays. So that policy is now out.”

Military Must Be Deployable

The secretary said as he reviewed the services’ policies, they were already strong enough, “so some of this may simply be more adherence to the current policy that we have; some of it may require an effort within the DoD, the Office of Secretary of Defense policy, that we put out for the department now,” he added.

“But the bottom line is, we expect everyone to carry their share of the load,” the secretary said, adding, “and sometimes things happen. People bust their legs in training or they're in a car accident. We understand that.”

But DoD comprises a deployable military, which is a lethal military that aligns with its allies and partners, he said.

“If you can't go overseas [and] carry a combat load, then obviously someone else has got to go. I want this spread fairly and equitably across the force.”

The only exemption is for those who have been injured in combat, he noted.

“If they were wounded in combat, and they want to stay in and they've lost their leg or something like this, and they can't be a paratrooper anymore, then we'll find a place to use them. That's a special category. They've earned that special status,” Mattis said.

“Otherwise, you're either deployable, or you need to find something else to do. I'm not going to have some people deploying constantly, and then other people who seem to not pay that price to be in the U.S. military,” he said.

Defense Secretary Meets With French Defense Minister in Munich

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2018 — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with French Minister of Defense Florence Parly yesterday during the Munich Security Conference, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said in a readout of the meeting.

The defense secretary and Parly agreed on the need for a strong stance against the threat posed by the Iranian ballistic missile program and the need to address Iran's proliferation of ballistic missiles to terrorists and militants, White said.

Mattis thanked the defense minister for French leadership in counterterrorism operations in Africa and the Levant, which have been critical for restoring stability, she said. He reiterated the global coalition must remain focused on the fight to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and keep pressure on the remnants of the terrorist organization to ensure they do not regroup, White said.

The defense secretary also stressed that a strong Europe is a better security partner, but that E.U. defense initiatives should complement, not compete with NATO, she said.

Mattis thanked Parly for France's contributions to global security, White said, and the two leaders agreed to continue strengthening U.S.-French defense cooperation.