Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Mattis Comments on DoD Role in Election Security, Space as Warfighting Domain

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department will provide all support necessary to the Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies to protect U.S. elections from Russian interference and other bad actors, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters today.

The secretary also said the U.S. military must address space as a developing warfighting domain that may lead to creation of a new combatant command.

The Russian government was responsible for the attacks on the U.S. election process in 2016, Mattis told reporters. “We all saw what happened in 2016 when the Russians – and possibly others, but the Russians for certain – tried to do both influence operations and actually get in to try to corrupt some of the process,” he said.

Engaged and Supporting

DoD agencies know what to look for, and they are engaged is supporting Homeland Security and state and local election officials to protect the integrity of the midterm elections, the secretary said, but he would not get more specific about what U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency are doing.

Mattis emphasized that DoD is not focused on one country, but on protecting the election process itself. DoD is guarding against influence operations and on attempts to corrupt the process, he said.

The secretary said he is in favor of establishing a combatant command covering space and that a process is in progress.

DoD is “in complete alignment” with President Donald J. Trump’s concern about protecting America’s assets and interests in space, Mattis said. “We are going to have to address it as other countries show the capabilities to attack those assets,” he added.

Mattis said Vice President Mike Pence is the “point man” on space and that DoD is working closely with him and with the relevant committees on Capitol Hill. “We are still putting it together,” he said. “We’ll get it right. We’ll work it though the Congress. We have the direction from the president, and we are underway.”

Mattis Welcomes British Counterpart to Pentagon

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson today at the Pentagon.

In a statement, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said Mattis and Williamson met to reaffirm the long-standing and special defense relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, White said, including strengthening the defense trade relationship and coordinating deployments in the Indo-Pacific region.

“The secretary also thanked Secretary Williamson for nearly doubling U.K. contributions toward the NATO mission in Afghanistan and reaffirmed U.S. support for U.K. defense modernization efforts,” White said.

Navy Officer Pleads Guilty to $2.7 Million Fraud Scheme

NORFOLK, Va. – A Virginia Beach naval officer pleaded guilty today to his role in a $2.7 million procurement fraud scheme, and to lying on his federal income tax return.

According to court documents, Randolph M. Prince, 45, defrauded the Navy out of over $2.7 million through a procurement fraud scheme in which he, as a member of his Navy unit’s supply staff, steered government contracts to sham companies who were created and run by his friends. Prince had the authority to make purchase requests for military equipment on behalf of his command, and also had the ability to sign for goods when a company delivered them to his unit on the back end.

Prince took advantage of his position to direct purchases to the sham companies, which had been opened for the sole purpose of receiving government contracts from Prince. When a contract landed on the desk of one of these companies, Prince, and others, would generate fraudulent documentation to suggest the company had honored its end of the bargain. With this documentation in hand, the Navy would then pay the company. However, the sham companies never provided the Navy with anything at all. Instead, they distributed the Navy money amongst Prince and his associates.

Prince pleaded guilty to wire fraud and making a false statement in connection with his 2014 tax return. He faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when sentenced on December 3. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Robert Craig, Special Agent in Charge for Defense Criminal Investigative Service Mid-Atlantic Field Office, Cliff Everton, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) Norfolk Field Office, Martin Culbreth, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office, and Kelly R. Jackson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar accepted the plea. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. Layne is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:18-cr-116.