National Security

Mattis’ 9/11 Remarks to Stir Capitol Hill, Voter Support Against Continuing Resolution Spending Fixes

“In other words, Mattis threw down the gauntlet about where America stands when it comes to defeating radical Islam.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis used the 16th anniversary honoring the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, PA to warn against “temporizing” counterterrorism efforts to combat radical Islam and jihad targeting America and American interests abroad.

Some say this was a “veiled shot” at the political and strategically short-sighted Obama administration’s counterterrorism strategy and rhetoric. In other words, Mattis threw down the gauntlet about where America stands when it comes to defeating radical Islam, saying, “We Americans are not made of cotton candy. We are not seaweed drifting in the current; we are not intimidated by our enemies.”

Then, Mattis turned to look directly at Trump, and in a possible hint regarding upcoming counterterrorism policy shifts or strategy by the Trump administration, said, “Mr. President, your military does not scare.”

Indicative of just how significant a threat the Secretary of Defense considers jihad ideology to America’s well-being and future, Mattis compared today’s troops in the ongoing war against radical Islam as “worthy successors of our Revolutionary army at Valley Forge, worthy successors of our valiant sailors at Midway and our Marines at bloody Iwo Jima.”

Separately, in a letter obtained by CNN and reported the day following the remarks, Mattis warned defense committee leaders on Capitol Hill against long-term continuing resolutions. “Impacts begin immediately, within the first 30 days of a CR. By 90 days, the lost training is irrecoverable due to subsequent scheduled training events,” Mattis wrote.

While they fund the federal government, the military cannot start new programs and is restricted in moving funds to various spending accounts to accommodate needs as they arise, whether it’s the hiring of personnel, training, maintenance, or purchases.

Mattis’ criticism comes in the wake of the Trump administration striking a bipartisan continuing resolution agreement to provide Hurricane Harvey relief, which has deeply upset Republicans on Capitol Hill over claims of lost leverage in making deals of their own with Democrats as well as over this very issue pointed out by the retired USMC General, who retired in 2013 after serving as the head of US Central Command (Centcom) in charge of all US forces in the Middle East, and whose service in the Middle East includes the first Gulf War in 1991 as well as the Battle of Falluja in 2003.

According to CNN, though the Trump administration’s proposed budget would increase military spending by more than $50 billion above current spending caps, it will only happen if Congress lifts the Budget Control Act or part of the 2011 deal to lift the debt ceiling in exchange for limits on Pentagon spending. This is made all the more critical in light of Mattis’ in-it-for-the-long-haul warning against “temporizing” the war on terrorists—something not possible through short-term spending fixes, no matter how politically savvy or bipartisan. In other words, he has the military and the enemy firmly in hand but needs the funds to get the job done for good.

Sheena Hutchison

Sheena Hutchison is an OpsLens contributor with nearly a decade of experience in political analysis and campaign strategy. As a ghostwriter for a former Reagan-appointed ambassador to the United Nations, much of her work has focused on domestic and foreign policy issues, particularly those related to national security, immigration and counterterrorism. Sheena holds a BA in International Affairs with a regional concentration in the Middle East from The George Washington University and is pursuing a MA in Global Security Studies with concentrations in Strategic Studies and Intelligence at Johns Hopkins University.

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