Sunday, August 26, 2018

Guard Integral to DoD Effort to Build Lethality, Alliances, Mattis Says

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- Enhancing lethality and restoring readiness is at the heart of the National Security Strategy and the National Guard is an integral part of that strategy, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told the National Guard Association of the United States, yesterday.

The secretary spoke in New Orleans to the 140th General Conference of the group.

The secretary used his speech to describe how the National Guard fits into the strategy. Great power competition with China and Russia has replaced terrorism as the primary focus, he said, adding that the U.S. military continues the fight against terrorists.

‘We’re Going to Restore Readiness’

Moving to this priority means restoring military readiness across the board, the secretary said.

“We’re going to restore readiness … and we’re going to build a more lethal force in the process,” Mattis said. “Second, we are going to strengthen alliances with partners and allies and we’re going to create new partners and allies.”

He noted the American Revolution would have failed without help from allies like France.

The third line of effort is to reform and modernize DoD for greater performance, accountability and affordability, Mattis said. This strategy is key to gaining bipartisan support for the military on Capitol Hill, he said. He noted that 87 percent of Congress approved the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act.

But, he said, the key to the strategy is a lethal military force. “We Americans have no God-given right to victory on the battlefield. So we need you, my fine young National Guardsmen, at the top of your game,” Mattis said. “Lethality begins when we are physically, mentally and spiritually fit to be evaluated by the most exacting auditor on Earth -- and that auditor is war.”

The secretary added, “Readiness is being most ready, when our country is least ready. And, readiness depends of preparation.”

He pointed to the World War II battle for Bataan and the first months of the Korean War as examples of what happens when military readiness is lacking. Leaders must exemplify this readiness, Mattis said, and hold their personnel to the standards.

‘We Need You Fit, Deployable And Team Players’

“We need you fit, deployable and team players -- never advantaging yourself at the expense of your comrades,” he said.

The National Guard is uniquely prepared to help America build alliances, Mattis said. He praised the State Partnership Program. Mattis spoke about the state partnership between Argentina and Georgia, Chile and Texas, Colorado and Jordan and Alaska and Mongolia.

“This is not a one-time mission and the Guard is uniquely suited to sustain allied efforts over many years, thanks to the amount of corporate continuity you maintain in your ranks,” he said.

Mattis said building alliances is a two-way street, and he urged the Guardsmen to listen and learn from foreign military partners.

“Recognize that not all good ideas in warfare come from the nation with the most aircraft carriers,” he said. “When the tough times come and the thin veneer of civilization is stripped away from us we are tempted to close ranks, interacting only with those who look like us, dress like us, speak like us and think like us. You must not fall into that trap.”

Mattis said even the closest allies will disagree at times, and the United States has dealt with this in the past. He noted the disagreements that led to the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the discussions around deploying nuclear capabilities in Europe in the 1970s.

Those who believe today’s disagreements are unprecedented have not read history, he said.

Even with disagreements, “we have always been able to fight together on the battlefield with like-minded nations,” Mattis said. “There is nothing new under the sun.”

DoD Mourns Death of Senator John S. McCain

WASHINGTON -- United States senator and retired Navy Capt. John S. McCain died yesterday in Arizona after a long battle with cancer. He was 81.

McCain chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee, but it was his life of service and his heroism in Vietnam that inscribed his name in the hearts of service members everywhere.

“We have lost a man who steadfastly represented the best ideals of our country,” Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said in a DoD release. “As a naval officer and defiant prisoner of war, John McCain stood with his brothers-in-arms until they returned home together.”

McCain, the grandson and son of four-star Navy admirals, was captured in North Vietnam in 1967. He was wounded in ejecting from his aircraft. The North Vietnamese sought to gain propaganda by torturing him into asking for an out-of-sequence release. He refused to leave. He spent more than five years in the Hanoi Hilton.

Selfless Service to the Nation

“Passionately committed to our country, Senator McCain always put service to the nation before self,” Mattis wrote. “He recognized that for our experiment in democracy to long endure, people of action and passion must serve. In this he represented what he believed, that ‘a shared purpose does not claim our identity -- on the contrary, it enlarges your sense of self.’”

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He trained as an aviator and volunteered for service as a Navy pilot in Vietnam.

“Senator McCain exemplified what it means to be a warrior and dedicated public servant,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a written release. “Both as a naval officer and as a member of Congress, he was a lifelong and tireless advocate for the men and women of the U.S. military.”

Upon returning from Vietnam, McCain underwent months of grueling physical therapy and was returned to flight status. He commanded a training squadron in Florida and then served as the Navy’s liaison to the U.S. Senate. He retired as a captain in 1981. His military decorations include the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross, three Bronze Star medals, two Purple Hearts and the Prisoner of War Medal.
Sen. John McCain greets Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Oct. 3, 2017. Mattis and Dunford testified about the political and security situation in Afghanistan.
Sen. John S. McCain greets Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Oct. 3, 2017. Mattis and Dunford testified about the political and security situation in Afghanistan.

McCain was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and then to the U.S. Senate from Arizona. He joined the Senate Armed Services Committee in 1987, and championed getting soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen what they needed. He also took the time to listen to their concerns and went directly to the frontlines to hear from them.

Supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces

“Senator McCain recognized the sacrifice and hardships military members and their families can experience and proudly served as their champion in Congress,” Dunford said. “He visited our nation's wounded warriors around the country to offer encouragement and to thank them for their service. Through his tenacious and selfless leadership in the Senate, he fought hard to ensure our armed forces remained strong and had the support and resources needed to succeed when placed in harm's way.”

Dunford added, “While we mourn Senator McCain's passing, we are eternally grateful for his distinguished service to our nation, his advocacy of the U.S. military and the incredible example he set for us all.”