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Mattis Goals: Readiness, Partners, Reform

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Department of Defense
Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has sent a fiscal new year message to the Defense Department’s military and civilian workforce giving his guidance on priorities.

“We must be prepared to deal with an increasingly complex global security situation, characterized by an accelerated decline in the management of the rules-based international order,” he warns, citing North Korean provocations, Russian violation of international borders, China’s efforts to intimidate neighbors and Iran’s continued violence that threatens Middle East stability.

Mattis describes three “lines of effort” he wants DoD to pursue:

  • Restoring readiness to “build a more lethal force” will require a multiyear plan to rebuild warfighting capabilities, fill holes in capacity and lethality, and prepare for the future. “This line of effort prioritizes a safe and secure nuclear deterrent, the fielding of a decisive conventional force and retains irregular warfare as a core competency,” he writes.
  • Existing alliances need to be strengthened and new partners found. “History is compelling on this point: nations with strong allies thrive while those without stagnate and wither,” he writes.
  • Business reforms, with budget discipline and strong resource management, are needed. Some reforms are underway, such as creating a chief management officer and realigning acquisition authority. “Others are forthcoming, as we seek to modernize the defense travel system, protect our infrastructure and intellectual property, improve information-technology business-operations efficiency and implement real-cost accounting,” he writes.

Mattis expects everyone to be on board. “Set disciplined goals, collaborate across components and model appropriate ethical behavior,” he says. “Remember, attitudes are caught from those who set the example. Use your force of personality to lead with a sense of urgency and purpose every day so that we leave this department in even better shape for those that follow.”