Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis isn’t one to waste time or mince words. So how did he celebrate his first official Monday in office as the leader of our armed forces?
He wasn’t popping champagne, calling in favors for donors, or on the golf course with politicians. Mattis was too busy dropping bombs on Islamic terrorists.
Lots and lots of bombs.
In their first day under Mattis’ command, our military conducted 31 separating bombing missions against ISIS.
Finally unleashed after being restricted for eight years under former President Barack Obama, the men and women of our Armed Forces quickly got back to doing what they do best. They put warheads on foreheads.
So how did Mattis spend Tuesday, his second day in office?
He was calling up our international alliances and sending them a message — it’s time to pull your weight.
NATO’s chief and new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis have discussed military spending and combating terrorism, the source of criticism of the alliance by President Donald Trump.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s office said Tuesday that the two men “agreed on the fundamental and enduring value of NATO for the security of both Europe and North America.”
In a phone call, they looked forward “to working together to strengthen the alliance, including by increasing defense spending and doing even more to fight terrorism.”
The U.S. spends more on its armed forces than the other 27 NATO member states combined. It also pays a significant portion — just over 22 percent — of NATO’s commonly funded budget.
Stoltenberg and previous secretaries general have been urging allies to step up spending for years.
Only four other countries — Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland — meet the 2 percent spending target. Many are increasing their budgets, mostly out of necessity in response to aggressive action by Russia, like its military ventures in Ukraine and Georgia, unannounced war games and the buzzing of allied ships and planes by Russian jet fighters.
Trump has also said that NATO must do more to combat terrorism, and last week a top NATO general conceded that parts of the world’s biggest military alliance are obsolete.
Supreme Allied Commander Transformation Gen. Denis Mercier said NATO has focused too much on deploying troops abroad, so-called expeditionary warfare, particularly its Afghan operation.
Mercier said NATO wants to revamp its approach to counter-terrorism, in part by helping countries under threat to develop long-term plans to fight extremists.
Mattis was sworn in Friday. He will meet his NATO counterparts and Stoltenberg on Feb. 15-16 in Brussels.
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