Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mattis - Day One!

General... er.. pardon, SecDef Mattis [still getting used to it] was smiling at the Pentagon in his first hours of office as a variety of fighters, bombers and UAVs engaged in 31-strike bombing run, which saw 25 strikes in Syria and six in Iraq. In Syria, ISIS units and artillery near the town of Bab were destroyed. ISIS forces in Raqqa, received heavy losses as a dozen units, nine positions, two IED factories and an ISIS HQ were also taken out. There was an additional strike on two ISIS controlled oil wells in Deir ez Zour.

But it wasn't all fun and [war]games for the Warrior Monk. In difference to the POTUS, the SecDef signalled strong support to NATO on his first day on the job, by personally calling three major US allies and confirming that the US had an "'unshakeable commitment to NATO."

As a 4-Star general, Mattis served as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation and thus is a staunch supporter of the organisation. He phoned NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as the UK's Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon and Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan in Canada. Mattis emphasised the US commitment to NATO to the international partners despite POTUS not feeling as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer put it: "as though it's doing what its mission was set up to do or that it's being particularly effective." Nevertheless the DOD stated that the SecDef "wanted to place the call on his first full day in office to reinforce the importance he places on the alliance."

Stoltenberg noted Mattis was NATO's SACT and therefore "knows the Alliance's value well." With Minister Sajjan the SecDef spoke about the importance of NORAD as well as NATO including a NATO battalion that will be deployed to Latvia along the NATO-Russia frontier. Fallon and Stoltenberg spoke with Mattis addressing some of the issues that POTUS had spoken about, including that NATO is ill-suited to tackle terrorism and that members do not spend enough on defense. Stoltenberg felt Mattis made him feel sure that POTUS will be fully committed to NATO and to the transatlantic partnership.

This week the SecDef will contact some of his other international counterparts and meet NATO partners in person next month during the Meeting of Defence Ministers in Brussels in what will possibly be his first trip abroad in his new position.

No comments: