Archive for the ‘James Mattis’ category

Pentagon Chief James Mattis: Iran, Russia Still Arming Afghan Taliban

September 29, 2017

Pentagon Chief James Mattis: Iran, Russia Still Arming Afghan Taliban, BreitbartEdwin Mora, September 29, 2017

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The Trump plan to end the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan is “determined” to force the Taliban to the peace negotiation table, said Gen. Nicholson.

Moreover, Trump’s plan is expected to pressure Pakistan to no longer harbor terrorist groups fighting and killing Americans in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their ally the Haqqani Network, among others.

Unlike the failed policy of the previous administration, conditions on the ground will drive Trump’s strategy rather than arbitrary timelines.

In other words, the Trump administration has not set any timetables to draw down its forces, choosing to wait until it accomplishes its goals instead.

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Russia and U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism Iran continue to provide weapons and other military aid to Taliban jihadists in Afghanistan, reiterates United States Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, repeating accusations made by the United States armed forces.

During his first visit to Afghanistan since U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled a new South Asia strategy last month, Secretary Mattis discussed the ongoing 16-year-old war in Afghanistan with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and American Gen. John Nicholson, the top commander of U.S. and international troops in the conflict-ridden nation.

The Pentagon chief blasted Russia and Iran’s continued support to Taliban jihadists, echoing concerns previously expressed by U.S. officials, including Gen. Nicholson, who has also noted that Pakistan is assisting the terrorist group as well.

“Those two countries have suffered losses to terrorism, so I think it would be extremely unwise if they think they can somehow support terrorism in another country and not have it come back to haunt them,” declared Mattis, referring to Iran and Russia, reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). 

Support from Russia and Iran is strengthening the Taliban and lending legitimacy to the jihadist organization, notes the newspaper, citing unnamed U.S. military officials.

“That’s a lot more dangerous right now than what they’re providing in terms of material,” a military official told the WSJ. 

Russia and Iran have conceded sharing information with the Taliban to fight their mutual enemy, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), but both countries deny providing military assistance to the group.

Afghanistan’s neighbor Iran, which the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) recently said “remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism,” has also dismissed accusations that it is providing sanctuary to the Taliban.

In December 2016, Gen. Nicholson told Pentagon reporters that the United States is concerned about the “malign influence of external actors” in Afghanistan, such as “Pakistan, Russia, and Iran,” noting that the countries are assisting the Taliban.

The general explained:

Russia has overtly lent legitimacy to the Taliban. And their narrative goes something like this: that the Taliban are the ones fighting Islamic State, not the [U.S.-backed] Afghan government… this public legitimacy that Russia lends to the Taliban is not based on fact, but it is used as a way to essentially undermine the Afghan government and the NATO effort and bolster the belligerents.

Soon after the top U.S. general made those remarks, Reuters learned from unnamed Taliban fighters that the jihadist group had maintained “significant contacts” with Russia since at least 2007, long before ISIS came into the scene.

An anonymous senior Taliban fighter told Reuters that the “sole purpose” of their cooperation with Russia is to push the U.S. military and their allies out of Afghanistan.

The Taliban alleges that Russia’s support is only “political.”

As part of President Trump’s new South Asia strategy, the United States has authorized the deployment of 3,000 additional American troops, bringing the total in Afghanistan to 14,000.

The Trump plan to end the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan is “determined” to force the Taliban to the peace negotiation table, said Gen. Nicholson.

Moreover, Trump’s plan is expected to pressure Pakistan to no longer harbor terrorist groups fighting and killing Americans in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and their ally the Haqqani Network, among others.

Unlike the failed policy of the previous administration, conditions on the ground will drive Trump’s strategy rather than arbitrary timelines.

In other words, the Trump administration has not set any timetables to draw down its forces, choosing to wait until it accomplishes its goals instead.

Gen. Nicholson has welcomed the changes, recently telling reporters the Taliban leadership has “atomized” as a result, reveals the WSJ. 

“For years, they thought we were leaving,” he added, noting that new U.S. and NATO commitments have eliminated that notion.

Although the Taliban remains the most prominent terrorist group in Afghanistan, ISIS has strengthened its reach and influence in the country in recent months.

The Taliban contests or controls 45 percent of Afghanistan, reported the Long War Journal this week, echoing assessment by the U.S. military and the terrorist group itself.

Terrorists launched a rocket attack on the Kabul international airport soon after Mattis landed in Afghanistan on Wednesday, allegedly targeting the Pentagon chief.

The incident is a testament to the deteriorating security conditions Trump inherited from his predecessor.

Both the Taliban and its alleged rival ISIS have reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mattis Holds EMERGENCY Press Conference on North Korea H-Bomb Test 9/3/17

September 3, 2017

Mattis Holds EMERGENCY Press Conference on North Korea H-Bomb Test 9/3/17 via YouTube

 

Mattis warns NKorea to stop before it is destroyed

August 10, 2017

Mattis warns NKorea to stop before it is destroyed, DEBKAfile, August 9, 2017

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned North Korea in the strongest terms Wednesday, Aug. 9 to stop any action that would lead to the “end of its regime” and the destruction of its people.

He said in a statement: “The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

Mattis pointed out that the DPRK regime’s actions “will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”Mattis added that while the State Department was making diplomatic efforts, the United States and its allies have the most “precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.”

Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned:  “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Trump and his generals

June 22, 2017

Trump and his generals, Washington TimesVictor Davis Hanson, June 21, 2017

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

[T]he three generals are beholden to Mr. Trump for a historic opportunity to shape America’s security posture in ways impossible during the last half-century.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump must recognize that such generals lend credibility to his role as commander in chief and signal that he is wise enough to value merit over politics.

At least for now, it is a win-win-win solution for Mr. Trump, the generals — and the country.

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ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump earned respect from the Washington establishment for appointing three of the nation’s most accomplished generals to direct his national security policy: James Mattis (secretary of defense), H.R. McMaster (national security adviser) and John Kelly (secretary of homeland security).

In the first five months of the Trump administration, the three generals — along with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO — have already recalibrated America’s defenses.

At home, illegal immigration is down by some 70 percent. Abroad, a new policy of principled realism seeks to re-establish deterrence through credible threats of retaliation. The generals are repairing old friendships with allies and neutrals while warning traditional enemies not to press their luck.

President Trump has turned over most of the details of military operations to his generals. According to his critics, Mr. Trump is improperly outsourcing to his generals both strategic decision-making and its tactical implementation.

But is Mr. Trump really doing that?

In his campaign, Mr. Trump vowed to avoid new ground wars while not losing those he inherited. He pledged to wipe out ISIS and radical Islamic terrorism without invading Middle Eastern countries to turn them into democracies.

Those are wide but nonetheless unmistakable parameters.

Within them, the U.S. military can drop a huge bomb on the Taliban, strike the chemical weapons depots of Syria’s Bashar Assad, or choose the sort of ships it will use to deter North Korean aggression — without Mr. Trump poring over a map, or hectoring Gen. Mattis or Gen. McMaster about what particular move is politically appropriate or might poll well.

Other presidents have done the same.

A wartime President Lincoln — up for re-election in 1864 — wanted the tottering Confederacy invaded and humiliated. But he had no idea that Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman would interpret that vague wish as nearly destroying Atlanta, and then cutting his supply lines to march across Georgia to the sea at Savannah.

When Sherman pulled off the March to the Sea, Lincoln confessed that he had been wrongly skeptical of, totally surprised and utterly delighted with Sherman’s victories. He then left it to Sherman and Gen. Ulysses S. Grant to plan the final campaign of the war.

Had Sherman lost his army in the wilds of Georgia, no doubt Lincoln would have relieved him, as he did so many of his other failed generals.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt demanded a cross-channel invasion of France by mid-1944. He did not worry much about how it was to be implemented.

The generals and admirals of his Joint Chiefs handled Roosevelt’s wish by delegating the job to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Anglo-American staff.

Had Eisenhower failed on the Normandy beaches, Roosevelt likely would have fired him and others.

Other critics complain that decorated heroes such as Gens. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly should not stoop to work for a firebrand like Mr. Trump.

The very opposite is true.

Anti-New Dealers such as Republicans Henry Stimson and Frank Knox served in the Roosevelt administration to ensure national unity and expertise during World War II — in much the same manner that old George W. Bush hand Robert Gates stayed on as secretary of defense to advise foreign policy novice Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump entered office with no formal political or military experience. That does not mean his business skills and innate cunning are not critical in setting national security policy — only that he benefits from the wise counsel of veterans.

The patriotic duty for men the caliber of these three generals was to step forward and serve their commander in chief — and thereby ensure that the country would have proven professionals carrying out the president’s recalibrations.

Of course, there must be tensions between the Trump administration, its Democratic opponents and the largely apolitical Gens. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly, who have enjoyed high commands under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

Liberals want the generals to leak to the press and hint that Mr. Trump is a dunce whose blunders force wise men like themselves to clean up the mess.

Republicans prefer the three to get on board the Trump team and appoint only conservatives who will resonate administration values.

In truth, Mr. Trump and his generals share a quid pro quo relationship that so far has worked.

Gens. Mattis, McMaster and Kelly must know that few other presidents would have taken the heat to entrust three military men to guide national security policy. And even if another president did, he might not empower them with anything like their president latitude.

In that regard, the three generals are beholden to Mr. Trump for a historic opportunity to shape America’s security posture in ways impossible during the last half-century.

On the other hand, Mr. Trump must recognize that such generals lend credibility to his role as commander in chief and signal that he is wise enough to value merit over politics.

At least for now, it is a win-win-win solution for Mr. Trump, the generals — and the country.

US Tomahawk cruise missiles for ISIS-Sinai HQ

April 18, 2017

US Tomahawk cruise missiles for ISIS-Sinai HQ, DEBKAfile, April 18, 2017

 

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.

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The US Mediterranean fleet is moving into position ready for a decision to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for a crushing assault on the Islamic State’s mountain strongholds in central Sinai, DEBKAfile’s military and counterterrorism sources report.

This would be the second American strike in a month against a Middle East target, after 59 cruise missiles destroyed one-fifth of the Syrian air force at the Shayrat air base on April 7 in response for Assad’s chemical attack on Syrian civilians.

The prospective American missile attack in Sinai would raise the war on ISIS in the Middle East to a new plane. It would have been discussed during the Egyptian President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi’s visit to the White House on April 3. He explained to his host, President Donald Trump, the immense difficulty of overcoming the Islamic State’s affiliate when its headquarters were dug into an interconnected web of tunnels and caves in the central Jabal (Mount) Halal of the peninsula. Nicknamed the “Tora Bora of Sinai,” approach roads to this mountain fastness are few and far between, in common with the Afghan cave network near the Pakistan border destroyed on April 13 by the biggest non-nuclear bomb, the GBU-43/B, in the American arsenal.

The last Egyptian assault on ISIS’ towering mountain stronghold took place on April 2, shortly before El-Sisi travelled to Washington. The Egyptian military announced that 31 terrorists had been killed and a number of caves holding arms and ammunition destroyed.

But the damage was not devastating enough to disrupt the Islamist terrorists’ operations, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Most of the terrorists escaped with the help of allied Bedouin tribesmen who, familiar with every nook and cranny in the desert peninsula, guided them to safety in new caves in Jabal Halal that were even more inaccessible to Egyptian troops.

Their new headquarters can only be destroyed by cruise missiles capable of exploding underground.

The Egyptians and Americans believe that if the Jabal Halal cave system sheltering the ISIS-Sinai core command center is destroyed, its long campaign of terror will be curtailed. The flow of terrorist manpower, arms and explosives from the mountain to the networks which terrorize the population and Egyptian forces of northern Sinai will dry up.

Jabal Halal is also the hub of the ISIS smuggling networks, through which fighters and arms are moved from southern Libya into Sinai and Egypt. Knocking it out will also deliver a resounding blow to that traffic.

A final decision to go ahead with a US missile assault on central Sinai rests with Defense Secretary James Mattis. He is due to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday, April 19.

US-Gulf Front Proposed to Eliminate ISIS, and End Iran’s Influence

March 2, 2017

US-Gulf Front Proposed to Eliminate ISIS, and End Iran’s Influence, Iran News Update, March 2, 2016

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An idea has about how to fight the war against ISIS that isn’t limited to additionally weaponry or forces in Raqqa and Mosul, but rather, forming a [group] that will ferociously fight ISIS, on the condition that areas liberated from ISIS will not [be] occupied by Iran or by militias affiliated with Iran.

In exchange for a contribution in the war against ISIS, whether in Iraq or Syria, Iran must not be inside these areas. This must be made clear to the Iraqi government. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, stated that the US will continue to support Iraq even after it’s liberated from ISIS, but all agree, there must be an end to the Iranian expansion in Arab capitals. A united front not only insists on the exit of Iranian forces from Iraq and Syria, but that also desires the end of Iranian influence. The message was conveyed by  Gulf countries and the US.

The next phase will be the establishment of a US-Gulf front.

According to an article by Sawsan al-Shaer for Al Arabiya, “If Iraq wants Gulf countries to support its security and stability by cooperating with the US, it must act to address the security chaos caused by Iranian militias on its land.”

A major goal is the exit of foreign forces and militias supported by Iran from Syria and Iraq. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, said in an interview with the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, “Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries announced they’re willing to participate with special troops alongside the US. Some countries from the Islamic Alliance to fight terrorism and extremism are also ready to send troops. We will coordinate with the US to know what the plan is and what is necessary to execute it.”

Additionally, US President Donald Trump ordered Mattis to draw up a plan within 30 days to combat ISIS. According to the German daily’s interview with Jubeir, he expects these plans to be proposed soon. “The major idea is to liberate areas from ISIS and to also guarantee that these areas do not fall in the hands of Hezbollah, Iran or the (Syrian) regime,” Jubeir said.

Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkish Foreign Minister, said on January 4, that the Syrian regime must go back to the negotiating table and deal directly with the opposition to achieve peaceful political transition in Syria. “We must send a strong message in which we demand that all foreign militias exit Syrian territories immediately,” he said, and emphasized the importance of the withdrawal of all militias from Syria in the end of 2016 after what was known as the Russian-Iranian-Turkish document was announced. This document led to calling for the Astana conference in Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, talk is already begun about the post-ISIS phase in Iraq. In early January, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki rushed to visit Iran, and met with Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s international affairs advisor. On January 4, Al-Arabiya.net reported that according to the Mehr news agency, Maliki said he went to Iran to meet with Khamenei to discuss what he called “possible threats post-ISIS.”

Al-Arabiya’s report added: “This is a new political term in international and regional politics especially that the war against ISIS has not ended yet in Iraq and Syria. The point of Maliki’s statements that he went to Iran to discuss possible threats post-ISIS with Iranian officials are unclear as the extremist organization is not present among the Iranians and ISIS does not have any announced military activity in Iran.”

Mattis requesting Iraqi interpreters, pilots be exempted from Trump’s travel ban

January 30, 2017

Mattis requesting Iraqi interpreters, pilots be exempted from Trump’s travel ban, Washington ExaminerJamie McIntyre, January 30, 2017

secdefDefense Secretary Jim Mattis has requested some broad categories of Iraqis be exempted from President Trump’s 90-day travel ban. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has requested some broad categories of Iraqis be exempted from President Trump‘s 90-day travel ban, a Pentagon official tells the Washington Examiner.

The categories would include interpreters who risked their lives alongside U.S. troops in Iraq, as well as Iraqi pilots who have been traveling to the United States to learn to fly F-16s.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the list of categories has not been finalized, said the exemption would not require any changes to the president’s memo ordering a travel ban from seven majority-Muslim countries, but rather would be in the form of implementing guidance to the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.

The travel ban’s effect on Iraqi citizens drew particularly sharp criticism from lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

“At this very moment, American troops are fighting side-by-side with our Iraqi partners to defeat ISIL,” Sen. John McCain said. “But this executive order bans Iraqi pilots from coming to military bases in Arizona to fight our common enemies.”

Rep. Seth Moulton, a former Marine officer who worked to get his interpreter asylum in the U.S., lashed out in an appearance on ABC on Sunday.

“You know, I worked for Gen. Mattis. I know him. There is no way in hell that he is supportive of this. He relied on translators for his life, just like I did,” Moulton said.

One of the first people detained after the travel ban was enacted was Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who worked as an interpreter for the U.S military for 10 years. He was released Saturday afternoon.