Well, good morning, and thank you all for taking time to come and listen to us here.
Again, this is a National Defense Strategy, but what it really is, ladies and gentlemen, this is an American strategy. It belongs to you. You own it. We work for you.
And I would just tell you, Dean Lewis, it’s a pleasure for hosting me here today. I owe you a great deal. It’s a pleasure to be at a school named for the gentleman that this one is named for, Paul Nitze.
I would just tell you, he was so wise in how he could select people. He picked a young man once and gave him a couch in his townhouse here in town to help him when he first got into national security affairs. That young man he put on his couch was none other than George Shultz, which says something about his ability to see talent at a young age.
And there’s a lot of talent that comes through here and it looks very good to me from this point of view. You all look like promising young men and women, because you’re all young compared to me. (Laughter.)
But he was also a great and avid scholar. He was someone who studied issues. You could agree or disagree with him but would not find him flat-footed intellectually.
And I bring this up because National Security Council Document or Report #68 was a guiding light during the Cold War. It guided many things.
Was it perfect in hindsight? No, it was not. We don’t look for perfection from you young people, we look for excellence.
He also served as our secretary of the Navy, so we do have a sense of ownership of the man for whom this school is named.
The background that you have here makes this a fitting place to introduce our unclassified summary of the classified document. You know, parts of it are classified because we owe a degree of confidentiality to the troops who will carry out this strategy.
It is, as was noted by the dean, our nation’s first National Defense Strategy in 10 years. I believe it’s a moral obligation for leaders to lay out clearly to the subordinates in the Department of Defense what it is we expect of them.
It is designed to protect America’s vital national interests. And this defense strategy was framed, as was noted by the dean, by President Trump’s National Security Strategy. And just a couple of words out of that to show you what I mean that it was framed; that it is inside the framework of that National Security Strategy.
Specifically, where it states that we’re to "protect the American people, the homeland and the American way of life." And it goes on to say "and to preserve peace through strength." Those are words out of the National Security Strategy and we carry those themes inside the Pentagon, where we say, "What does that mean for us?"
Of course, national security is much more than just defense; this is our part of the responsibility.
Today, America’s military reclaims an era of strategic purpose and we’re alert to the realities of a changing world and attentive to the need to protect our values and the countries that stand with us.
America’s military protects our way of life and I want to point out it also protects a realm of ideas. It’s not just about protecting geography. This is a defense strategy that will guide our efforts in all realms.
The world, to quote George Shultz, is awash in change, defined by increasing global volatility and uncertainty with Great Power competition between nations becoming a reality once again. Though we will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.
This strategy is fit for our time, providing the American people the military required to protect our way of life, stand with our allies, and live up to our responsibility to pass intact to the next generation those freedoms that all of us enjoy here today.
Adapting to today’s realities, this strategy expands our competitive space, prioritizes preparedness for war, provides clear direction for significant change at the speed of relevance, and builds a more lethal force to compete strategically.
This strategy makes a clear-eyed appraisal of our security environment, with a keen eye on America’s place in the world. This required some tough choices, ladies and gentlemen, and we made them based upon a fundamental precept, namely that America can afford survival.
We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia are from each other, nations that do seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models, pursuing veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions.
Rogue regimes like North Korea and Iran persist in taking outlaw actions that threaten regional and even global stability. Oppressing their own people and shredding their own people’s dignity and human rights, they push their warped views outward.
And despite the defeat of ISIS’ physical caliphate, violent extremist organizations like ISIS or Lebanese Hezbollah or al Qaida continue to sow hatred, destroying peace and murdering innocents across the globe.
In this time of change, our military is still strong. Yet our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare, air, land, sea, space and cyberspace, and it is continuing to erode.
Rapid technological change, the negative impact on military readiness is resulting from the longest continuous stretch of combat in our nation’s history and defense spending caps, because we have been operating also for nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions that have created an overstretched and under-resourced military.
Our military’s role is to keep the peace; to keep the peace for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day. To ensure our diplomats who are working to solve problems do so from a position of strength and giving allies confidence in us. This confidence is underpinned by the assurance that our military will win should diplomacy fail.
When unveiling his national security strategy, President Trump said, "Weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unquestioned strength is the most certain means of defense."
Ladies and gentlemen, we have no room for complacency, and history makes clear that America has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield. Simply, we must be the best if the values that grew out of the Enlightenment are to survive.
It is incumbent upon us to field a more lethal force if our nation is to retain the ability to defend ourselves and what we stand for. The defense strategy’s three primary lines of effort will restore our comparative military advantage.
We’re going to build a more lethal force. We will strengthen our traditional alliances and building new partnerships with other nations. And at the same time we’ll reform our department’s business practices for performance and affordability.
In doing this, we will earn the trust of the American people and Congress, if their defense dollars are well spent.
But let me go through each of the lines of effort. And I want to start with lethality, because everything we do in the department must contribute to the lethality of our military.
The paradox of war is that an enemy will attack any perceived weakness. So we in America cannot adopt a single preclusive form of warfare. Rather we must be able to fight across the spectrum of conflict.
This means that the size and the composition of our force matters. The nation must field sufficient capable forces to deter conflict. And if deterrence fails, we must win.
We will modernize key capabilities, recognizing we cannot expect success fighting tomorrow’s conflicts with yesterday’s weapons or equipment. Investments in space and cyberspace, nuclear deterrent forces, missile defense, advanced autonomous systems, and resilient and agile logistics will provide our high-quality troops what they need to win.
Changing our forces’ posture will prioritize readiness for warfighting for major combat, making us strategically predictable for our allies and operationally unpredictable for any adversary.
Increasing the lethality of our troops, supported by our defense civilians, requires us to reshape our approach that managing our outstanding talent, reinvigorating our military education and honing civilian workforce expertise.
The creativity and talent of the department is our deepest wellspring of strength, and one that warrants greater investment.
And to those who would threaten America’s experiment in democracy, they must know: If you challenge us it will be your longest and your worst day. Work with our diplomats; you don’t want to fight the Department of Defense.
The second line of effort I noted was to strengthen alliances as we build new partnerships, as well.
In my past, I fought many times and never did I fight in a solely American formation. It was always alongside foreign troops.
Now, as Winston Churchill once said, the only thing harder than fighting with allies is fighting without them. But we are going to be stronger together in recognizing that our military will be designed and trained and ready to fight alongside allies.
History proves that nations with allies thrive, an approach to security and prosperity that has served the United States well in keeping peace and winning war. Working by, with and through allies who carry their equitable share allows us to amass the greatest possible strength.
We carried a disproportionate share of the defense burden for the democracies in the post-World War II era. The growing economic strength of today’s democracies and partners dictates they must now step up and do more.
When together we pool our resources and share responsibility for the common defense, individual nations’ security burdens become lighter. This has been demonstrated right now, today, for example, by over 70 nations and international organizations of the Defeat-ISIS campaign that is successfully conducting operations in the Middle East. And again, the 40-odd nations that stand shoulder-to-shoulder in NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
To strengthen and work jointly with more allies, our organizations, processes and procedures must be ally-friendly. The department will do more than just listen to other nations’ ideas. We will be willing to be persuaded by them, recognizing that all not — that not all good ideas come from the country with the most aircraft carriers.
This line of effort will bolster an extended network capable of decisively meeting the challenges of our time. So we’re going to make the military more lethal, and we are going to build and strengthen traditional alliances, as well as go out and find some new partners — maybe nontraditional partners — as we do what the Greatest Generation did, coming home from World War II, when they built the alliances that have served us so well, right through today.
Our third line of effort serves as the foundation for our competitive edge: reforming the business practices of the department to provide both solvency and security, thereby gaining the full benefit from every dollar spent, in which way we will gain and hold the trust of Congress and the American people.
We are going to have to be good stewards of the tax dollars allocated to us, and that means results and accountability matter.
To keep pace with our times, the department will transition to a culture of performance and affordability that operates at the speed of relevance. Success does not go to the country that develops a new technology first, but rather, to the one that better integrates it and more swiftly adapts its way of fighting.
Our current bureaucratic processes are insufficiently responsive to the department’s needs for new equipment. We will prioritize speed of delivery, continuous adaptation and frequent modular upgrades.
We must shed outdated management and acquisition practices, while adopting American industry’s best practices. Our management structure and process are not engraved in stone. They are a means to an end, empowering our warfighters with the knowledge, equipment and support needed to fight and win.
If the current structures inhibit our pursuit of lethality, I expect the service secretaries and agency heads to consolidate, eliminate or restructure to achieve the mission.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Shanahan is leading this third line of effort: to leverage the scale of our operations, driving better deals for equipping our troops.
This national defense strategy will guide all our actions, aligning the department’s three lines of effort to gain synergies. But we recognize no strategy can long survive without necessary funding and the stable, predictable budgets required to defend America in the modern age.
Failure to modernize our military risks leaving us with a force that could dominate the last war, but be irrelevant to tomorrow’s security. Let me be clear: As hard as the last 16 years have been on our military, 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’s defense spending cuts, worsened by us operating, 9 of the last 10 years, under continuing resolutions, wasting copious amounts of precious taxpayer dollars.
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.
For too long, we have asked our military to stoically carry a "success at any cost" attitude as they work tirelessly to accomplish the mission with now inadequate and misaligned resources, simply because the Congress could not maintain regular order.
That we have performed well is a credit to our wonderful and loyal troops, but loyalty must be a two-way street. We expect the magnificent men and women of our military to be faithful in their service, even when going in harm’s way. We must remain faithful to those who voluntarily sign a blank check, payable to the American people with their lives.
As Speaker Ryan said yesterday, quote, "Our men and women in uniform are not bargaining chips."
The consequences of not providing a budget are clear: Without a sustained budget, ships will not receive the required maintenance to put to sea; the ships already at sea will be extended outside of port; aircraft will remain on the ground, their pilots not at the sharpest edge; and eventually, eventually ammunition, training and manpower will not be sufficient to deter war.
But I am optimistic that Congress will do the right thing and carry out their responsibility. I may be in the minority in this room, when I say that — (Laughter.) — but I’m an eternal optimist.
And as Senator Reid said last November, "We need bipartisan investment in our troops to enhance military readiness and help us meet evolving national security challenges."
Under our Constitution, it is Congress that has the authority to raise armies and to maintain navies. Yet as I stand here this morning, watching the news, as we all are, from Capitol Hill, we’re on the verge of a government shutdown or, at best, yet another debilitating continuing resolution.
We need Congress back in the driver’s seat of budget decisions, not in the spectator seat of Budget Control Acts’ indiscriminate and automatic cuts. We need a budget and we need budget predictability if we’re to sustain our military’s primacy.
Now, many of us in this room were born free, here in America, completely by accident. All of us can live here by choice, thanks to the veterans and the patriots who serve today in our military. Yet we today have an obligation to pass intact to the next generation the same freedoms we enjoy right now.
That’s an obligation that we have. That’s not something we can simply abrogate to someone else.
And I believe that this strategy, resourced appropriately, will ensure we live up to our responsibility to our children’s generation.
So with that, ladies and gentlemen, and the dean did say he was going to help me answer the questions. So thanks very much for that — (Laughter.) — what I recognize is a slip of the tongue, but in this town that can get you into a lot of trouble, and I speak with authority on that. (Laughter.)
So — but ladies and gentlemen, let’s see where we’re at. Let’s have a dialogue now.
Again, this is — we serve you. This is your strategy as much as it’s ours. We had a responsibility to write it, and it’s up to us to be able to defend it intellectually, alongside you and in the face of any questions you have. So let’s hear what’s on your mind.
Now, where’s Katherine at? She’s somewhere around here.
MODERATOR: Thank you for your remarks, Secretary Mattis. My name is Katherine Standbridge. I’m a second-year M.A. student here at SAIS, and I’ll be reading the questions that have been submitted by the audience.
So our first question: "Building capability and capacity are challenging to achieve at the same time. Do you see one of these as being more important in the near term?"
SEC. MATTIS: Yes. Very good question.
So capabilities are what does the force bring? And you look at every capability in a force, you look at changing times, what are the threats. We try to define the threats to what I would call a Jesuit’s level of satisfaction, which is tough indeed. And at that point, we then determine, do we need additional capabilities?
Then you have capacity. In other words, how big is the force that you have.
I believe, at this time, in this age, that emphasizing the capabilities that the force brings is probably the predominant effort that you’ve got to make.
At the same time, capacity, the size of your force, makes a difference. There are nations that have stood by us for years and to whom we look many times for support. And some of those forces have been shrunk to a point that they no longer allow their diplomats to speak with strength.
So we have to make certain we keep a force of sufficient size. But my emphasis right now is on building the capacity. Do we have the cyber troops in there? Do we have the intelligence analysts in there that allow us to be at the top of the game when we make that grave choice to send our young folks into the — into a fight?
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Next question: How does the NDS intend to modernize U.S. forces and prepare the U.S. for a conflict with some of the world’s rising powers?
SEC. MATTIS: Well, what — first of all, you’ve got to accept the reality. You have to look — with reality of what the world looks like, and what are those challenges to our way of life.
There is nothing in here that presupposes war. The whole point — and you saw it well demonstrated with the NATO alliance. For how many years did NATO stand strong, all the democracies together from Europe and North America? How long did we stand together? And what was a Cold War never became a hot war on the plains of Europe.
So the point is, how do we create a military that is that compelling? And what you have to do is you have to take the threats as they stand. You have to make certain you’re integrated with the State Department’s foreign policies, so we’re operating with very much a depth to our State Department — not outside the State Department’s foreign policy, but inside it.
And so it starts with me having breakfast every week with Secretary of State Tillerson. And we talk two, three times a day, sometimes. We settle all of our issues between he and I, and then we walk together into the White House meetings. That way, State and Defense are together.
And this allows us, as we look at a military that must adapt to its times, we also are in step with the foreign policy. You do not want to get detached from that and think that you’re just going to automatically serve the needs of our country.
Then, when you get down to the discrete elements of military power, it’s a much more straightforward process, to tell you the truth. You look at what capabilities other countries have. You look at what technology is bringing on board. You put it together. You prioritize, based on the threat analysis that is done both inside the Pentagon, but that is never enough; I want an outside view as well, and that’s why we have a very close link with the CIA and foreign intelligence services.
And then we also have officers assigned to other nations’ armed forces, or on duty in our embassies around the world, and they are also feeding from our friends — they’re feeding more ideas in, and certainly, they’re keeping us updated on what they’re seeing of potential adversary systems.
So you put it together in that manner, and then it becomes like a Rubik’s Cube. As you move defensive and offensive capabilities together, you work with allies — I’m on my way to Brussels here, in a couple weeks, to work with our allies again, as we look at what we call NATO capability gaps. They’re not all going to be filled by us. Some of them are going to be filled by others, and that’s the way it should be when democracies band together to defend the principles we stand on.
So it’s an analysis, and then it’s an assignment of priority, and then it’s an allocation of resources. If you don’t get the resources — my closing words — then your strategy is nothing more than a hallucination, because, without the resources, there’s just so much brave young men and women can do.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Continuing in a similar vein, how well linked is the NDS to the budgets and activities of the State Department and civilian agencies?
SEC. MATTIS: Yes, it is somewhat linked. Again, I do not take any — I’m leaving to visit Indonesia and Vietnam this weekend, and before I go, I sit down with Secretary Tillerson, and he actually sends to me in writing, at some point after we’ve talked, what are the foreign policy parameters, what are the priorities he has while I’m visiting those countries.
I think that probably the most important thing is to ensure that, in everything we say and in everything we do, we are reinforcing our diplomats. That’s the way it works when you’re doing foreign policy, and we’re an instrument of foreign policy.
As some of our tough young men put it, we do the last 600 meters of foreign policy. And that’s a fair statement in terms of — we’re there, first of all, to back up the diplomats. And then, you know, if push comes to shove and we’re unable to avert — you know, basically avert war, or we end up in one, then we carry it forward.
But our job, even then, is to develop something better for peace. It’s not just to fight a war. It’s for a political reason. That’s established by State.
We do work together. I have some development money that’s allotted to me by the U.S. Congress because of where we operate around the world. When we spend that money, already at the highest levels of State and Defense Department, we have sat down and prioritized that money together. We don’t go off and spend that money without State Department helping with the pen to say “what are the priorities that we have?”
MODERATOR: Thank you.
And, again continuing on this track, how is the DOD working to encourage allies and partners to build up their own defense capabilities?
SEC. MATTIS: It’s — that’s actually going better than I expected. I came here — I remember flying out of Denver — I kind of was flying in here to go in to confirmation. And I was trying to think of how do I put "America first" into, in my mind, an alliance framework.
And, as we were getting on — ready to take off, you know what happened. You all can recite it from memory. The stewardess was standing there, and she said, "In the event we lose cabin pressure" — you know what’s coming next, every one of you, don’t you? (Laughter.) "When the masks drop, put your own mask on first, then help others."
So what we’re going to do is restore America’s economic viability, because no nation in history has maintained its military power that was not economically viable and did not keep its fiscal house in order.
So the first thing was, when I went into Brussels on my first meeting there with the most critical alliance we have, which is the 29 nations of NATO, I said — I used that example, and I said, "But I’ve got to tell you" — I said, "that I’m speaking from the heart."
I knew many of them. I’d been a Supreme Allied Commander in NATO in a previous job, and I said, "I know many of you here." I said, "I have sat behind Secretary Rumsfeld, when he came here and said you’re going to have to pay more, you can’t expect the Americans to keep doing this."
I said, "I’ve heard Secretary Gates put his prepared remarks down and tell you he needs to lay this on the line, that the American people do not want to continue to carry a disproportionate share."
And I said, "You have heard it from President Obama’s administration. I’ve been here and I’ve heard it said then. And now it’s manifested politically in America, so here’s the bottom line.
"Please do not ask me to go back and tell Americans that they — the American parents that they need to care more about the safety and security and the freedom of your children than you’re willing to care for, that you’re willing to sacrifice for.
"We’re all going to have to put our shoulder to the wagon, and move it up the hill."
Surprisingly, I did not lose the rapport that I really — I would lose rapport with some of them. I mean, that’s a — that’s a hard message. But I wanted to put it in human terms, because this is a human situation we’re talking about.
I don’t think that the values that grew out of the Enlightenment are something that simply exist in isolation and don’t need to be defended. And there’s enough other things going on in the world. We can see this.
So the argument is made for itself. The argument is made for itself. The CIA briefed me, when I came in, that my first crisis would probably be somewhere in the Korean Peninsula. My first trip overseas — went to Tokyo and Seoul, and I will tell you, there are two nations that are doing a lot for their own defense, and we’re very tightly bonded. It’s a trusted relationship.
So it’s actually going well. The message has been received in positive terms. I do not have antagonistic or adversary terms with any of our traditional allies. And we have new allies who are eager to start working military-to-military with us at this time.
So, so far, it’s going okay. But, of course, these are all democracies, by and large, we’re dealing with, and they have their own constituencies inside each country. That’s a political reality — all politics are local, whether you’re in the United States, or you’re in, you know, Poland or anywhere else.
But, so far, I’m very encouraged by what I’ve seen, and we could not be better served than by Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, there in Brussels, with our primary alliance. And the way he leads that alliance is one where we all have to work together and do our fair share.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
Next question: How can the military institutionalize and preserve counterinsurgency lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan, as we shift to a greater focus on near-peer rivals, like China and Russia?
SEC. MATTIS: Yes. If I was to sum up the challenge that we have inside the department in carrying out this strategy, it’s threefold.
It’s how do we maintain a safe and effective nuclear deterrent, so those weapons are never used? It’s a nuclear deterrent. It’s not a warfighting capability, unless it’s the worst day in our nation or the world’s history. So that’s the first one — priority — a safe and effective nuclear deterrent.
Number two is how do you field, in the modern age, a decisive conventional force? It’s expensive. We recognize that. But it’s less expensive than fighting a war with somebody who thought that we were weak enough that they could take advantage.
And the third is, at the same time as we field that conventional force, how do you sustain a counterinsurgency capability inside your force? And why do I say that? I go back to the words of the most near-faultless strategist alive today, Dr. Colin Gray of Reading University, who said, "The paradox of war being" — and I said it in my — in my prepared remarks — "that the enemy will always move against your perceived weakness, we cannot marry adopt one preclusive form of warfare" — say we’re not going to do counterinsurgency, because you know what’s going to happen.
And so we are going to have to do it — I see it as a — it is, relatively, a training and education issue. It doesn’t take a lot of specialized kit — there’s some — but it takes language skills. It takes young men and women who want to join up and serve their country who have studied other nations, who speak the language. It takes not just cultural appreciation, but it takes the kind of training that puts an awful lot of authority in the hands of 20-year-old corporals and 24-year-old, 23-year-old second lieutenants.
Now, those forces, in that labor-intensive kind of warfare, scatter among innocent people. And we fight those wars so obviously among the innocent that it takes a very well-trained, well-honed force.
But it’s mostly training and it’s mostly education that allows us to keep counterinsurgency inside the great power competition force that we are composing.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
With cybersecurity a rising concern in both public and private sectors, how does the NDS plan to address strengthening U.S. cybersecurity measures?
SEC. MATTIS: Right. If you look back, put it in historical terms, ladies and gentlemen, we began fighting on the ground, I don’t know, 5,000 years ago — about the first time somebody envied something somebody else had, I guess.
We went to sea and went maritime probably about, I don’t know, 4,000 years ago. Then, about 100 years ago — a little over a hundred years ago, World War I, we went into the air domain.
And then — so we had a couple thousand years for a couple of them. We’ve had a hundred years to incorporate air. And now, in a matter of a little more than a decade, really, we’ve added cyberspace and outer space as potential warfighting — as warfighting domains. It’s the way we must look at it, since we’re your sentinels, we’re your sentries who guard America. We have to look at it that way.
In cyber, what we are going to do is reorganize. I told you we’re reorganizing the department to a degree. You’re going to see reorganization of the fundamental organizations. The U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency — they will be organized along different lines.
We are going to have to, then, resource them in education, with training programs, recruiting programs and mission statements so that the reorganized forces are working together, because this is a Wild West right now. As you know, people in their bedrooms can be doing things that are causing your bank account dire problems, at this point.
So I would just tell you, it’s going to have to look at this problem much more broadly than the department has looked at problems in the past. And that means we have to be relevant to the security of everyone who’s looking at me right now, not just relevant to our forces in the battlefield in some overseas land.
What that means: I’ve got to get some really bright people in. And we’ve got them on our Defense Innovation Board. They come out of places like Silicon Valley, and they are the top of the line. And they are an enormous help as we craft the specifics to this.
But most of all it’s that we have got to absorb now, this is a mission, and we can’t say, "We’d just like to have our airplanes and our tanks and our ships. We don’t want to get into that messy thing."
Now, where this takes us, there’s a lot of things we have to look at. Our founding fathers, on cyber, were very, very — (Laughter.) — they obviously anticipated things. And what is it? Remember? Life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Think. They knew that, in protecting life, we also had to be protecting liberty.
And how do we protect life, if cyber could shut down all the power in a part of our country that would kill people in hospitals or paralyze economies that are required to keep people alive, and that sort of thing?
How do we deal with that, when that’s not what you and I would call a military mission? Matter of fact, we have laws that prohibit us — and we are proud of those laws — from doing certain things in this country. You don’t see any military person arresting anybody in this country — not our — not our authority under the Constitution.
So what are we going to do in an area that was not addressed other than thematically, that we must keep our constitutional rights alive even as we protect our people? And that’s going to be something that I will not decide. You will all be helping us decide that, because we will need you involved in this.
I mean, what do we do? Do we decide we’ll put up a domain, and if somebody wants to, they can go inside it and we’ll have a military force trying to protect that domain? And if you put your account and your bank account in there, you get protection? And someone who thinks that we’re up to no good, says, "I’m not getting in that" — that’s okay — freedom of choice, right?
So where are we going to go with this? I need to get some more people in to structure this thematically, so we lay out choices for you and see what our Congress decides is the right level of military involvement or what we have to offer there.
It’s a very complex issue. For right now, I’m focused mostly on just making certain that our military can fight, and supporting FBI and others when we spot a problem coming in from overseas. We will pick it up, and we notify the law enforcement agencies now.
But there’s a lot more to be done, ladies and gentlemen, and I have not got that defined yet. Inside the military, we’re good to go to; we know what we have to do. More broadly, I’m not sure yet.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Secretary Mattis.
One last question: Will a government shutdown have serious ramifications on military operations? And, if so, what are your plans for mitigation?
SEC. MATTIS: Yes. (Laughter.)
Let me give you an example. This morning or last night, young guys and gals somewhere in Wyoming were driving off to do their weekend duty. There’s any number of projects we have underway that keep me at the top of my game, and our military at the top of our game, that are handled by civilians. All these things are going to be disrupted.
Those troops who arrive there at their armories, by the way, and told, "Go home," if there’s a government shutdown, and they will then drive a couple hundred miles back home — these are — these, again, are stoic young men and women.
They’ll suck it up, and they’ll say, "Okay." If they’re Navy reservists, they’ll say, "Aye, aye, sir," cheerfully. And, when they get in their car they may not mutter something quite so positive. (Laughter.)
I would just tell you, there will be — our maintenance activities will probably pretty much shut down. We will not be able to induct any more of our gear, our — that need maintenance.
Over 50 percent altogether of my civilian workforce will be furloughed, and that’s going to impact our contracting. It will impact, obviously, our medical facilities. It’s got a huge morale impact, I’ll just tell you.
How long can you keep good people around when something like this happens, is always a question that’s got to hover in the back of my mind.
I would just tell you that we do a lot of intelligence operations around the world, and they cost money. Those, obviously, would stop. And I would just tell you that training for almost our entire reserve force will stop.
And you must understand the critical importance of our reserves. They’re the only shock absorber we have. It’s not like the old days, where you could draft somebody in and, 18 weeks later, have them in combat with the skills they need.
Today’s infantrymen — they’re called infantrymen because they’re infant soldiers, young soldiers — they still take a year to train in order to have them ready to use the gear they have on them and make certain they have the ethical and tactical abilities to deal with the battlefield today.
So it’s got a terrible impact. At the same time, the submarine that was put to sea last week will still be out for three months and, God bless them, the lads will not have any e-mail connectivity, so they will not even know what’s going on as they cruise quietly out there, carrying out their duties. The ships at sea will continue. The ones — our lads in Iraq and Afghanistan, who are in the fight, will continue. The young ladies who are guiding the drones right now will stay at their desks and keep them overhead.
So we will continue what we’re doing. But the value of the American military is grossly enhanced by the sense that the American model of government — of the people, by the people, for the people — can function and carry out its governmental responsibilities.
We’re not — I didn’t serve in the Marine Corps for 40-odd years. I served in the U.S. Marine Corps — belong to you, accountable to you, as Speaker Ryan pointed out here. For those out there right now, in the field, at sea, in the air, the ones sitting in the ready room over here at Andrews Air Force Base, I’d just tell you that they deserve — they deserve full support. And we have got to come to grips with this as a nation.
Why don’t we take one more? Katherine, you choose.
MODERATOR: Absolutely. This final question: How would the U.S. deter adversaries in space, as space itself becomes (off mic)?
SEC. MATTIS: Yes, how do we deter in space? It’s philosophically — or basically in the same way that we would deter anyone else. Don’t try it, because we can do more damage to you than any benefit you could gain.
So it comes down to that. But what that means is we’ve got to have capabilities to deny them what they want to achieve. In this regard, it’s not just about what you might think — of guns in space shooting each other.
It could be nothing more than, "We have — for every satellite up, we have 100 more this big that we could launch, so it’s just faster (inaudible) out. By the way, we’re going to take you down in the United Nations and we’re going to get economic sanctions."
In other words, there’s a way to raise — this is what I mentioned, expanding the competitive space. There’s no nation that has a wider competitive space, in terms of its moral or ethical or economic or military power, than we can amass, if we choose to use it wisely.
And so in space, we will do our best to deter. We’ll come up, I’m sure, with arms control agreements at some point, and we’ll start getting this under control. But, for right now, it’s sizing up the problem and making certain, again, that our diplomats will be negotiating from a position of strength, when they negotiate on that.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me just say thank you for taking time, again, to hear me out this morning. I hope it was of some value, and that the questions, especially — I thought were — by the way, Katherine, thank you for selecting however you did. I know you had more than that, but the questions, I thought, were very good.
And I would just encourage all of you, if you think we’re missing something or on the wrong track, by all means, notify us.
There’s ways to get a hold of us, through our public affairs, and I get those. It’s not all love mail, when I get it, I assure you. (Laughter.) I didn’t realize my parentage involved that, at times. (Laughter.)
But I would just tell you this is a raucous democracy and our troops stand ready right now, as we’re all sitting here enjoying freedoms we somewhat — even I — take for granted.
They’re out there, right now, ready to do whatever it takes to keep us — keep us safe. So please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and know that they represent the very best of us. They’re wonderful, and they really did sign that check, payable with their lives — a blank check — to every one of you.
So thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. I look forward to hearing from you. (Applause.)