Mattis: ‘No enemy’ more harmful than unpredictable funding

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis speaking Friday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis presented Friday the first new National Defense Strategy in 10 years and at the same time harshly criticized Congress for creating the most destructive enemy the military has faced.

“As hard as the last 16 years have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act, defense spending cuts and operating in nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions,” Mattis said at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies

At the same time Mattis said, the congressional paralysis is “wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars.”

Mattis warned that the pattern of repeatedly authorizing continuing resolutions has a cost.

“Today, as our competitive edge over our foes erodes due to budgetary confusion, even with storm clouds gathering, America’s military, as I speak, is operating under yet another continuing resolution,” he said.

The National Defense Strategy, which is the department’s pre-eminent strategic guidance document and sets the course for the department for the coming years, is designed to align with the broader National Security Strategy. The document directs the department to “compete, deter, and win” alongside its allies and partners to “prevail in conflict and preserve peace through strength.”

Mattis, during his more than 40 years in uniform, commanded Marines at all levels, from an infantry rifle platoon to a Marine Expeditionary Force. He warned inconsistent funding takes a toll on readiness and is unfair to America’s men and women in uniform.

“We must remain faithful to those who voluntarily sign a blank check payable to the American people with their lives,” he said.

J.J. Green

JJ Green is WTOP's National Security Correspondent. He reports daily on security, intelligence, foreign policy, terrorism and cyber developments, and provides regular on-air and online analysis. He is also the host of two podcasts: Target USA and Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America.

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