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tv   Sec. James Mattis In- Flight Briefing  CSPAN  February 12, 2018 12:48am-1:21am EST

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>> defense secretary james mattis has begun a six-day trip to italy, belgium, and germany to hold bilateral meetings with officials and talk about strategies for isis, syria, russia, and afghanistan. the secretary talked with reporters, and took questions about north korea and the pentagon budget. this is about 30 minutes. secretary mattis: thank you for coming out. i'm sure i have ruined your saturday and sunday. i appreciate you going out and covering what is going on for us. as many of you remember, i took you to rome, went to this place come -- then we went to brussels, munich. rome's de-isis conference is where we get together with nations and talk about the way ahead.
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there are numerous questions right now about what's next as we go forward. first, to finish off isis physical caliphate. that's still underway. those of you who were on the plane remember me saying the fight is not over against isis. it's not over. it goes on. there's been tough fighting in the past week with isis. we have the added complexity, april regime force -- a pro-regime force crossing the river. sometimes we cross the river. for example, coordinating with -- through the russians. in this case, they came across the river and went some attempt -- some 10 miles. they knew what was our position. how do we know that? they began shelling it.
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we had headquarters there. we responded and stopped. that force repeated back to the west side of the river. there's also been other firing going on there. we cannot give you a reason for it. we don't know. as you know, the deconstruction line has pretty much worked. the deconstruction communication line between us and the russians has stayed up for months, has never gone down. it was up throughout this latest series of incidents. the russians told us they have no forces -- had no forces initially. that's still the case, but we don't have full clarity on what the regime forces are doing there. for right now, at least at this moment, it's calm. in rome, we will be talking about the way ahead. this has to do with the recovery
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efforts for the areas occupied by isis. as you know, they tore the heck out of those places. there's a lot of recovery that's got to go on. we will be talking about that as well. most of what we will be talking about will be the initial recovery. how do you get people out of the area, clean water flowing again so you don't have disease outbreak, that sort of thing. then i'm going to brussels for a long scheduled defense ministerial. there's nothing tiny about this, normal routine for that. obviously, an opportunity to strengthen the alliance. i've gotten a lot of phone calls, notes, letters passed to me from allies, expressing support for the national defense
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strategy and nuclear posture review, both of which -- if you have been on the plane before, the conferences, those were coordinated going in. we were talking about getting their inputs and ideas. same with public defense strategy. no surprise it has been embraced by the nations. we continue to look at interoperability and coordination. this is a normal thing that keeps nato fit for its time. we will address modernization and burden sharing, and we have for years. in the last administrations, plural, both bush and obama. we continue today to press for everyone carrying their full, fair share of the load, and keep nato, probably the most success military -- successful military
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alliance. -- pre-vented war more than anything else. it is engaged in fighting now as you know in afghanistan. afghanistan will be a key part of the discussion in brussels. we remain unambiguously committed to the alliance and to our allies. that comes through loud and clear in the national defense strategy. i am basically going to stuttgart to see our combatant
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commands, ever, and you come. we'll talk about their specific focus areas, missions. also a clarification of the military, what we expect from our military commanders. they have critical roles, you come looking mostly to the east and to the south. that is were mostly -- they are bolstering efforts -- the only way to describe this campaign, french led, we will talk about what we will be doing in the future. we have a report coming out soon. we have an incident where we lost our -- support, it's making its way to me. it's not been sent to me yet. but i would expect as soon as the commander has reviewed it, it's extensive, thousands of pages long.
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we will look at this, not just , buthe specific incident broader circumstances surrounding that so you get a holistic view. it will take a while to get through it and make recommendations based on the investigating officer, chief of staff, senior officer basically of the staff, went in to do the investigation. once we get that up, we will be briefing you. i've got to see, but that too is something i will need to confirm when i see the commander.
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again, these are the commands that take the words through our allies, turn them into reality, action, not just series, which i want to hear how they are doing with our allies. we will break that out into this, however we doing this country, that country? there's a main concern that we are responsive to other nations, we are aware of the challenges they face. then i'm going to go over to munich. it's the premier security conference in europe each year. what i really want to do, i want to do a lot of listening and some bilateral engagements just like i will be doing in rome, minister of defense, the minister there since i came in. i will do it in brussels. in munich i would be meeting mostly with ministers who are
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not nato, other people around europe and elsewhere. i will be doing that work throughout the trip and all the locations, reinforcing the transatlantic bond to which we are fully committed. that gives you a sense of where i'm going, what i intend to do. >> are you ready for question? >> i have to go. [laughter] >> go ahead. i was born ready for your question. >> you said there have -- has been tough fighting against isis. i was wondering if you could expand on that. can you be more specific about the nato discussions? >> the isis campaign, i would liken it to it is no that you are pushing against. you know the iraqi security forces, basically are now here,
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good on the small cells. basically, on the iraq side of the border, isis has lost everything. as if seen here, all the way down, to what we call the middle euphrates river valley. that's basically the river valley downstream to the iraqi border. we are pushing against that. as you do that, you are compacting what is left of isis. the fighting becomes tougher at that point. plus, you've got the distraction of what's going on, what's drawing off some of these democratic forces which have got about 50%. that's probably not a firm percentage. could be less, could be more. they see people under attack.
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that is causing their attention to shift in some cases. some of the troops have drawn off. not a significant number right now. between the concentration of isis and the distraction, you've got them fighting down the line, what we call the middle you -- euphrates river valley. >> you said it would be key to the discussion of nato. >> last august i think it was, we have rolled out a new strategy. we will start with a regional view. i was at fort benning,
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discussing with people who are going in. to drive them to the reconciliation table. sec. mattis: even before we got any reinforcements, they started talking more. now, what we need to do is make that fighting season efforts are fully engaged, brief everybody on those, what we are that we arensure all aligned with who is bringing in more troops. we have got -- i think -- around a dozen nations right now. why has it taken right now? it requiress, parliamentary action due to the
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nature of their governments, so those things move at legislative speed. and see wheredown they are at, see what more they are going to do. they are putting more troops down there. take a look at france. provide officers in their countries or money to support the campaign? all of that coordination. does that answer your question? >> a couple more questions on syria. with some destruction going on, are you concerned about these pro-regime fighters attacking sdf moresp -- frequently? are you having discussions with
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russia to see if there is a way they can put those at rest? sec. mattis: that the conflict confliction line is constantly used. the russians professed they were not aware when we called about came they were notified when the firing began. that is when we heard there were no russians there, and we go out of our way to ensure we do not endanger the russians, so when we took them under fire, when they began the indirect fire, artillery fire, we went after them. to us, it's not a concern right now. we are watching it. we are quite capable of rebuffing this. if it does not make sense -- i
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think that is probably why the russians appear to be perplexed by it. >> have you had discussions with the russians looking ahead? sec. mattis: we do the confliction.-- de we don't do coordination. because we have that line, it does not need a lot of coordination until someone decides they are going to come across the line. we are ok with that. they are taking fire from the other side of the river. we will coordinate to make sure we have nobody there, and what they do is up to them, but we don't do coordination of that nature. we do not need to. it does not inhibit us. our operation on the other side of the river does not inhibit their operation. we will talk to each other
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because sometimes, an airplane can cross the river. reporter: but they are having less influence on syria. sec. mattis: i don't know if it is the same influence, and this is a group off on its own agenda. i am not willing to say the russians have lost influence or gained influence. clearly, coming out of sochi and moscow's insurance they would support the u.n. approach, we are on our way to geneva, the bottom line. russia is somehow the kingmaker, people think. they u.n. envoy is the kingmaker. he will decide. the peacemaker here. over the past few days, there seems to be a warming of tensions between north korea and south korea with the north koreans -- he appears to be accepting it. is that a positive sign for the
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peninsula? there is a bit of concern about that drawing a wedge between the u.s. and south korea. sec. mattis: people are watching for a wedge between south korea and the republic of korea and the united states. there is no wedge. the military staffs are integrated. if you move up to the political level, admiral song, minister of defense song flew into hawaii when i was in the pacific so he and i could sit down face-to-face and consult. he broached it saying in his opening remarks to the press .hat there is no gap at all on a political level in seoul, there is no wedge that can be driven between us by north korea. clearly, it is too early to say
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--using the olympics as using the olympics and a way to reduce tension, if that is going to have any traction once the olympics are over. we cannot say right now. reporter: is it good sign, the fact that they are talking? sec. mattis: it's too early for me to tell what he will do. in the midst of this, he ran a military parade that highlighted his ballistic missiles. that is a very strange time if to put ae is trying warning to the country that impeached the last president. clearly a democracy. it runs its own affairs. too early to tell. yeah? reporter: [indiscernible]
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assad said publicly he's going to go after -- how are you going to avoid engaging the regime directly? sec. mattis: that's a good question, because it's one of the most complex battlefields you can ever imagine. it grows in complexity. we are there for one reason, and that is to fight isis. this is an international campaign. no country in the world support isis. lebanese hezbollah has got a state sponsor. iran. isis has no state-sponsored. there is no nationstate saying "we are for isis. there." countries across the world, the middle east, europe, have all contributed money or forces, whatever is needed, and this
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campaign we are on is couched that policy of defeating isis. where we haveiraq a government we can work with after what thought did to his own people when they rose up against him. luxury int had that syria. however, we are there for one reason only. we will not be deflected. we have the right of self defense. we saw that with the pro-regime force for some reason without apparently telling the russians, withut coordinating anybody, came across the river and attack us. we will rebuff anyone who attacks us. that's natural. we are not going to broaden the war. that is not in our interest. choose to enlarge
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that mission. >> how are you going to defend of the territory? sec. mattis: what we are going to do is hold that territory, get it back in local leaders tods, use the geneva process come up with a post-conflict map plan for thelict way ahead and ensure isis does not rise in the middle of all that and derail everything we have fought for, and many people have paid the price on this thing. we don't simply up and leave before the caliphate is finished and leave the diplomats without a leg to stand on against people don't have any diplomatic inclinations. that is how we will keep it narrow. it will be a challenge, difficult, but we do difficult. no problem. >> you have got the two-year
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budget deal, so -- sec. mattis: it is not quite locked and. in march, there has to be an appropriations bill. it was quite an achievement for the president to get it to where it is. >> one of his goals is to rebuild the military? sec. mattis: yes. >> last year, the budget -- stopgap measure. is that still true for 2018? [indiscernible] sec. mattis: we got money from congress. a supplemental last spring. almost like stopping bleeding, buying more spare parts, getting more fuel, by more fuel, for aviators to
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get more time in the air. it was just a stopgap, not an integrated effort. effort from a .ational security strategy very collaborative with us. we were in on the ground floor. inputs at with our the same time. our budgeteers were getting constant guidance. we are already starting the longer calm. it is already couched in said the defense strategy. whether it will be a larger military initially or we just bring on the additional capabilities. i will give you an example. cyber troops. nineow we have needed them
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out of the last 10 years. we operated under continuing resolutions of unpredictable and varied lengths. it gave us a stop and go so we could not really adjust to the new forms of warfare that were coming out. first of all, we have got to further enhance the ranks of what we have now. in some cases, that means buying new gear. squadrons of airplanes have only seven. metal fatigue and all. we have to buy some new f-18s for example to keep the squadrons where they can be maintained at full strength. we will be buying stuff, standing up some new elements, cyber -- one example. and we will be recruiting more mechanics in the airport, and recruiting more soldiers to fill in gaps in the u.s. army. not a lot bigger
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organizationally. it is more addressing -- it is built more to address the changing forms of warfare and to bring the current capabilities up, but the longer-term defense strategy projections, you can read about, that is also guiding where these funds are going. we were able to do some of this as we were constructing the defense trade. along answer for you. >> is there anything you could knock it was $716 billion? anything you wish you could have gotten? sec. mattis: i am very confident that what the congress has now done and the president is going to allocate to us in the budget is what we need to bring us back to a position of privacy. reporter: real quick. on the record. >> go ahead.
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please. reporter: if i can bring you to nato, you mentioned -- can you speak a little bit about how much you think allies have really focused on burden-sharing in the last year? if they have done anything? and what more you would like to do? if you could describe a little bit the relationship? hit onttis: let me turkey up front. turkey is a nato ally. it is the only nato country with an active and -- an insurgency inside its own border. we are assisting turkey. a number of the nations are assisting turkey. in terms of missile defense and counterterrorism -- excuse me. and we continue to work on the areas of disagreement, which is how do we take down isis as rapidly as possible? but they have a legitimate securities concerned,
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and we do not dismiss one bit of that along that border with syria. i don't care whether you are israel or lebanon, jordan, iraq, or turkey. you have legitimate political -- you have legitimate security concerns. how do we thread that needle in this very complex campaign? it's tough, and we are going to continue to work closely with turkey. our military meets daily right now, so that's ongoing. question about burden has sharing. clearly, nato has reversed what was a downward trend, and for now, we are well into the second year. the nations are spending more on defense, and you see it with the number of nations that have already achieved 2.0 or will this year. -- you see it more
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broadly in europe if you take a look at sweden and finland. not members of nato. look what they are doing with their defense establishments. so i would say it is on a positive trajectory. it is clearly stated by a number nations.tion's -- it is over 2%. some of the bigger nations. in germany, you see them putting together the new government which has delayed some of this kind of policy decisions. but i have a very close and collaborative working relationship with my counterparts. she assures me germany will be doing more. i have got to wait on one thing until after the government reform rolls out. the trajectory is very positive. everyone is where they need to .e or has a plan
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the government will discuss that. we are all sovereign nations. these are sovereign decisions. we have got to discuss it. reporter: there is a pretty big dustup between israel and syria and regimes. israel has accused iran of flying a drone. was there any u.s. role -- [indiscernible] are they increasingly perceived as a threat to the region? sec. mattis: first of all, no. we were not involved in the events on a military basis. we have no involvement on the fighting there. the israeli air force in the syrian forces. it is interesting that everywhere we find trouble in
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the middle east, you find the same things behind it, whether it be in yemen or beirut or in syria. you always find your on engaged. now, in two places, i could say it does happen that way. in three places, it is starting to look right there is something to it. you areink the further from there, the easier it is to dismiss this as some sort of, you know, washington, d.c. to cannery or something the -- chicanery or something. if you are in bahrain and the police capture explosives and that sort of thing, if you're picking up debris in saudi arabia of the iranian missiles or you have got explosive, remote-controlled boats in the red sea, you can see where it on
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is either producing the wherewithal for the fight or actually leading the fight. syria.n iraq or made --ia, which has made no excuse for what they are iran, when they forproviding throughput iran to give weapons, including more sophisticated weapons, lebanese hezbollah has a right to defend herself. then on to wait until their citizens are dying under attack until they actually address that has an absolute atself. defend it >> are we ok to go off the record here?
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>> c-span's washington journal, news andy day with policy issues that impact you. coming up monday morning, we take a look at the week ahead in washington with reuters white house correspondent asia roscoe, and pulsing or. usa today washington correspondents will discuss efforts to lower prescription drug prices with the founder and president of patients for affordable drugs. cepheid washington journal, live beginning at 7:00 a.m. eastern monday morning. join the discussion. >> on friday, activists and academics discuss the role men can play in the #metoo movement and how they can change behavior that leads to sexual harassment and assault. this portion is 40 minutes. >> we are grateful


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