Mattis: Failure to Fund Defense Strategy Means Military Would Be ‘Irrelevant to Tomorrow’s Security’

By Melanie Arter | February 7, 2018 | 8:58 PM EST

Defense Secretary James Mattis (Screenshot of White House video)

( - Defense Secretary James Mattis said Wednesday that absent a spending budget, the United States military won’t be able to pay its servicemembers, recruit soldiers, and maintain ships at sea.

“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. We need Congress to lift the defense spending caps and support a 2-year budget agreement for our military. America can afford survival,” Mattis said.

“For too long, we have asked our military to carry on stoically with a success-at-any-cost attitude. The fact that our volunteer military has performed so well is a credit to their dedication and professionalism,” he said.

Mattis said Congress has a duty to be faithful to the military, and that without a budget, they won’t be able to pay troops by the end of the year.

“We expect the men and women of our military to be faithful in their service, even when going in harm's way. We have a duty to remain faithful to them,” he said.

“Absent a budget this year, America's military will not be able to provide pay for our troops by the end of the year,” Mattis said. “We will not be able to recruit the 15,000 Army soldiers, and 4,000 Air Force airmen required to fill critical manning shortfalls.

“We would not be able to maintain our ships at sea with the proper balance between operations and time for training and maintenance. We would have to ground aircraft due to a lack of maintenance and spare parts, degrading our pilot's proficiency. We would deplete the ammunition training and manpower required to deter war, and we would delay contract for vital acquisition programs necessary to modernize our force,” he said.

“I cannot overstate the negative impact to our troops and families' moral from all this budget uncertainty. Today's congressional action will ensure our military can defend our way life, preserve the promise of prosperity, and pass on the freedoms you and I enjoy to the next generation,” Mattis said.

When asked what a government shutdown would do to the military, Mattis said, “Shutting down the government would be very damaging to the military for all the reasons I just cited about a continuing resolution, but then aggravated by the shutdown itself, where we actually send home all non-uniformed personnel except those in a few critical areas.

“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, but the bottom line is, training is delayed. The impact just ripples through the force,” he said.

“And it doesn't just happen today, 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,” Mattis said.


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