Mattis at Naval War College

Jun 24, 2018

In a speech to the Naval War College, Defense Secretary James Mattis laid out the greatest national security challenges facing the United States.

“First, on urgency,” he said, “we see it epitomized by the North Korea situation.”

President Trump's historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un opened a possible new avenue to peace with North Korea. However, Secretary Mattis stressed, “We remain vigilant regarding pursuit of nuclear weapons anywhere in the world.”

Meanwhile, despite the Global Coalition to defeat ISIS' significant successes, violent extremist organizations continue to sow hatred in the Mideast and murder innocents around the world.

Defense Secretary James Mattis addresses U.S. Naval War College class of 2018. (June 15, 2018.)
Defense Secretary James Mattis addresses U.S. Naval War College class of 2018. (June 15, 2018.)

“It is the urgency of this fight,” said Secretary Mattis, “that compels us all to act decisively against terrorism, denying terrorists the safe haven they seek.”

Russia, observed Secretary Mattis, is “the nation closest to us in nuclear parity, and [has] proven willing to use conventional and irregular power in violation of international norms.”

For the first time since World War II, Russia has been the nation that has attempted to redraw international borders by the use of force in Georgia and Ukraine.

“Putin seeks to shatter NATO,” warned Secretary Mattis. “He aims to diminish the appeal of the Western democratic model and attempts to undermine America's moral authority.”

Another potential danger is a competition with a rising China, which is “harboring long-term designs to rewrite the existing global order,” said Secretary Mattis. “China has benefited enormously from the open international order, but it had no say in drafting it. Today, how we engage with China and how the Chinese choose to collaborate... will provide the roadmap for our future relationship.”

In response to these challenges, the Defense Department is building a more lethal force. “Our adversaries must know -- work with our diplomats and within the international order, for, if you threaten our experiment in democracy, it will be your longest and worst day. Warned Secretary Mattis.

Second, the U.S. is strengthening its military alliances and building new partnerships, for history is clear: nations with allies thrive.

The third line of effort is to reform and modernize the Department of Defense for greater performance.

Through this comprehensive strategy, the United States stands prepared to defend democracy at home and a rules-based international order.