Military News

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Dunford: U.S. Forces Busy Implementing Defense Strategy Worldwide


By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff gave a snapshot of the width and breadth of the U.S. military’s commitment around the globe during a Pentagon press conference today.

Dunford discussed the American military’s presence in the Indo-Pacific region, where 28,000 American service members remain on watch along the 38th parallel in Korea. “Our priority in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is supporting the State Department-led diplomatic and economic efforts aimed at denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” he said.

American troops stationed in Korea demonstrate the nation’s commitment to the U.S.-South Korean alliance and deter North Korea from adventurism, the chairman said. The United States is also conducting air and sea operations to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions aimed at getting North Korea to change its ways. All these are done with partners and allies, he said.

The United States is conducting operations across the command -- which covers 51 percent of the globe -- are aimed at preserving the rules-based international order that has allowed the region to peacefully grow and prosper, he said.

U.S. Indo-Pacific Command oversees programs to train, advise and assist forces in internal security, counter-narcotics and counterterrorism operations, the chairman said.

The chairman shifted focus to U.S. Central Command where American forces are in contact, seeking to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and training Afghan forces to protect and police their own country. Central Command also works to counter Iranian malign influence around the region and deter the leaders of that country from making provocative moves.

There are about 14,000 U.S. personnel deployed to Afghanistan in the counterterrorism operations and in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission.

“Our primary mission remains countering terrorist threats to the United States,” Dunford said. “Our forces, alongside forces from 40 NATO and partner nations, are also training, advising and assisting more than 300,000 Afghan forces who are responsible for security in Afghanistan.”

The coalition committed to the defeat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria consists of the United States and 76 other nations. “In Syria, 2,000 U.S. and additional coalition forces are working to enable the 50,000 Syrian Democratic Forces in clearing the remainder of ISIS from the Euphrates River valley and in stabilizing those areas that have been cleared of ISIS,” the general said.

Across the border, American forces work with Iraqi security forces to ensure the success they have had is enduring.

Russian actions in Crimea and the Ukraine have caused consternation across Europe, and U.S. European Command is deeply involved in reassuring allies and deterring Russia. American forces have deployed to the Baltic Republics and Poland where they work with allies on exercises to increase interoperability. “This year we have conducted 13 joint exercises in Europe in addition to a wide range of service specific training and engagement,” Dunford said.

In U.S. Africa Command, there are 7,200 U.S. forces supporting thousands upon thousands of African partners in their struggle against terror groups like al-Qaida, Boko Haram and offshoots of ISIS. “Our efforts include developing security forces in Somalia, countering ISIS in Libya and supporting partners in the Sahel and the Lake Chad regions,” Dunford said.

The chairman shifted to U.S. Southern Command where American military leaders work with allies to address regional challenges and threats. Transnational criminal gangs, narcotics and people smugglers and the refugee crisis around Venezuela concern all in the hemisphere.

“Finally, here at home, the U.S. Northern Command has 1,600 DoD personnel and 33 aircraft working to suppress wildfires in the Western states, while more than 2,000 Guardsmen are supporting [the Department of] Homeland Security on the southern border,” he said. “The Northern Command also provides around the clock ballistic missile defense, while Americans and Canadians from the North American Aerospace Defense Command defend our air space.”

And, as worldwide operations and exercises continue, U.S. forces must adapt and innovate, the general said.

“Our efforts include a series of globally integrated exercises and experiments to help shape the force we will need to fight and win tomorrow,” he said.

Mattis: U.S. Military Becoming ‘Stronger, More Lethal, More Agile’


By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department is making significant progress along its three strategic lines of effort outlined in the National Defense Strategy issued in January, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters today.

Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford updated Pentagon reporters this morning.

The secretary praised the strong bipartisan support in Congress that resulted in the $717 billion budget authorization for 2019. “And our military continues to grow stronger, more lethal, more agile, and certainly more deployable than a year ago,” he said.

The Fiscal Year ‘2019 National Defense Authorization Act is named for the late Sen. John S. McCain, and it meets all of DoD’s critical needs, Mattis said.

“I cannot thank Congress without expressing my respect for [McCain] for his steadfast courage and his service and my deepest condolences to his family for the loss of a man who represented all of the ideals America stands for,” the secretary said.

McCain was a staunch supporter of the U.S. military, he said.

“Our nation has lost a great patriot, and our military lost one of our most ardent supporters,” Mattis said.

The chairman also praised the late senator from Arizona.

“[He] was a lifelong and tireless advocate for the men and women of the U.S. military,” Dunford said. “While we mourn Senator McCain’s passing, we’ll be eternally grateful for his distinguished service and his courageous example.”

Maintaining Military Readiness

Today, the United States is being challenged across the global stage, Mattis said.

“[We] are witnessing a world that is awash in change, and maintaining readiness in the face of looming threats is a responsibility that we owe the next generation,” the secretary said.

The Defense Department is working hard to meet those challenges, he said.

“We’re going to put our activities into a strategic framework that we have provided in the National Defense Strategy,” Mattis said of the three lines of effort: increasing lethality, strengthening alliances and building new partnerships internationally, and reforming how DoD does business to achieve the best use of taxpayers’ money.

“[We] have no room for complacency in any domain, the secretary said. “We recognize cyberspace and outer space as warfighting domains on par with air, land and sea. And these two domains … were made contested domains by the actions of others, so as a result we have elevated [U.S.] Cyber Command to full combatant command status and we have worked with Congress and the White House to define the evolving space problem that we confront.”

DoD is also putting into place the National Defense Authorization Act’s provision for a unified space command, in line with the president’s vision for a Space Force, while revising its vision for defending its assets in space and revising antiquated acquisition processes.

“We are working now with Congress on our way ahead with regard to needed legislation for a separate department,” Mattis said.

“We have released our Nuclear Posture Review, outlining the necessary steps we are taking to strengthen America’s nuclear deterrents so these weapons are never used, nuclear war being a war that cannot be won and must never be fought,” he said.

DoD, also has added new standards to improve deployability of its forces so they are ready to fight and win at any time across any domain, the secretary said.

Alliances, Partnerships

The No. 2 line of effort goal is to “improve consultation, cooperation and burden-sharing with alliances and partnerships so we can best deter … threats and competition, … because we are stronger alongside like-minded nations,” Mattis noted.

“Democracy is working, and we will be continuing to work with our friends from Ottawa to the southern tip of South America, for cooperation is critical for realizing the shared vision of democracy, prosperity and security,” he said.

The last NATO summit yielded tangible results with 29 partner nations, which are now spending more on defense in the organization, Mattis said “All recommitted to spending 2 percent of [gross domestic product] on defense by 2024,” he added.

The secretary said DoD also gained full commitment to what’s called the four 30s: 30 air squadrons, 30 naval ships and 30 combat battalions, all available to fight within 30 days. “That is a well-established and quantifiable goal now,” he said.

DoD Business Reform

The department’s No. 3 line of effort is reforming how it does business.

“We understand we cannot have lasting security for our country without solvency,” Mattis emphasized. “We are conducting the first audit in the department’s history and I want that audit to find problems. It’s the only way we will be able to craft effective solutions.”

That ensures that DoD upholds the trust Congress and the American people have placed in the department to spend their tax dollars wisely, he added.

DoD reform efforts have produced nearly $4 billion in savings in fiscal year 2018, which can be applied to more lethality, the secretary said. “We initiated the repeal of several hundred unnecessary regulations across the department, enhancing our efficiency and making it easier for industry to work with us and without compromising performance or accountability,” the secretary told reporters.

Mattis pointed out that DoD embraced and finalized the congressionally directed split between its acquisition and sustainment and research and engineering offices to ensure warfighters have the technology and equipment they need both on the battlefields of today and tomorrow.

The secretary said the bottom line is the “significant progress among the three lines of effort, and [that] our strategic framework is proving applicable across our far-flung department’s operations, and we will continue to drive results in the months and years ahead.”

McCain’s Life Should Serve as Example for Today’s Service Members, Mattis Says


By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The life of Arizona Sen. John S. McCain, who died Aug. 25, should serve as an example for service members today, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said here today.

Mattis spoke with reporters just before welcoming Indonesian Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu to the Pentagon for meetings.

The secretary focused on Navy Lt. Cmdr. John McCain, a naval aviator shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and held in captivity for more than five years.

Mattis noted that McCain refused to be repatriated out of order. The North Vietnamese sought to make propaganda hay by releasing McCain – the son of the commander of U.S. Pacific Command – early. McCain refused and put up with torture, solitary confinement and lackadaisical medical care.

Lesson for Today’s Service Members

McCain’s faith in the country saw him through the ordeal, Mattis said, and he wants service members today to learn from that.

“It’s primarily that they understand if you cherish the country it can carry you through the toughest of times,” the secretary said. “There’s no battle that can be thrown at you, there’s no POW status that can take that away from you. And it can sustain you all the way through.”

McCain’s belief and strength of character saw him through, Mattis said. And that, he added, is “what we are looking for in the character of the military – peacetime, wartime; routine, crisis.”

Mattis will be one of the pallbearers at the senator’s funeral. “It’s an honor,” he said simply.