Washington, DC – US Defense Secretary James N. Mattis today (Feb. 7) minced no words in refusing to agree for a government shutdown, advocated by President Donald Trump a day earlier. Addressing the White House journalists, Mattis also lamented the budgetary constraints as the US military has been operating “under debilitating continuing resolutions for more than 1,000 days during the last decade.”
Taking questions from journalists, Mattis said, “Shutting down the government would be very damaging to the military for all the reasons.” The government shutdown makes the Pentagon to “actually send home all non-uniformed personnel except those in a few critical areas,” said Mattis, adding, “It just paralyzes everything that we do if we go into that, other than the ongoing active operations at sea and there the troops will continue to fight, the ships will stay at sea.”
A day earlier, President Trump called for a government shutdown if Congress does not pass what he considers adequate border-security measures.
“If we don’t get rid of these loopholes where killers are allowed to come into our country and continue to kill … if we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown … We’ll do a shutdown, and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump told a White House roundtable focused on the situation dealing with the gang MS-13.
In his opening statement, Mattis said that he’d spent the last day and a half on Capitol Hill briefing members on the 2018 National Defense Strategy.
Citing from the recent State of the Union Address of President Trump, “Weakness is the surest path to conflict,” Mattis noted, “In a world awash in change, with increasing threats, there is no room for complacency.”
“We need Congress to lift the defense spending caps and support a 2-year budget agreement for our military. America can afford survival,” said the defense secretary, cautioning, “Failure to implement or fund the 2018 National Defense Strategy will leave us with force that could dominate the last war, yet be irrelevant to tomorrow’s security.”
Noting that Congress recognizes the sobering effect of budgetary uncertainty on America’s military, Mattis said, “Two days from now, I will visit our nation’s 1st Security Force Assistance Brigade at Fort Benning (in Georgia) as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.” “To advance the security of our nation, these troops are putting themselves in harm’s way — in effect, signing a blank check payable to the American people with their lives,” he added.
Highlighting the bottom line as “training is delayed, the impact just ripples through the force,” Mattis said, “It ripples on, as people who are not flying are no longer gaining the level of skill that you and I would associate with them, even a year from now when they’re promoted.”
Defense Secretary Mattis was aware of the request from President Trump to host a military parade and reasoned that it was stemming from “the President’s affection and respect for the military.” Mattis disclosed that the Pentagon was ”putting together some options,” and those would arrive in “the White House for a decision.”
Asked again about the parade option, Mattis reiterated his explanation saying, “As far as the parade goes, again, the President’s respect, his fondness for the military, I think, is reflected in him asking for these options.”
The White House press secretary Sarah H. Sanders introduced Mattis before her routine briefing in the Brady Press Room of the White House.