Mattis Personally Intervened To Jam As Many Bombs As Possible Into The DoD Budget

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis meets with German, Lithuanian, Dutch, Belgian and American military members at Pabrade Training Area, Lithuania, May 10, 2017.
Photo via DoD

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis “personally intervened” in the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2018 budget request to maximize the number of munitions procured by the Pentagon, Defense News reported May 23.

Mattis’ request reportedly focused on pushing the Pentagon’s procurement of six types of “preferred munitions” to replenish existing arsenals that have been rapidly depleted by the ongoing bombing campaign waged by the U.S.-led multinational coalition against ISIS in Iraq in Syria.

The Pentagon’s budget request notes that the U.S. Air Force has expended “over 50,000 munitions” ($2.8 billion worth) since the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve in August 2014. (Previous statistics published by U.S. Central Command indicated that total bomb expenditures were closer to 65,000.)

Speaking to reporters on May 23, acting DoD comptroller John Roth stated that those “preferred” bombs were given a “last-minute boost from Mattis himself,” according to Defense News.

“As we closed out this budget, over the last two or three weeks in particular, a great deal of concern was being raised with current inventory levels, particularly given some of the expenditures in the CENTCOM area of operations,” said Roth. “So the secretary mandated and insisted we fully fund, to the maximum extent possible, the full production capacities for certain selected preferred munitions.”

In total, the Pentagon outlined $16.4 billion for missiles and munitions as part of its 2018 budget request, up from $14.9 billion in 2017. Those preferred munitions include 7,312 Small Diameter Bombs (SDB) and 34,529 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), and 7,664 Hellfire missiles, among others.

The emphasis on the SDB and JDAM is particularly noteworthy. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in May, U.S. Pacific Command Commander Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. cautioned lawmakers that expanded operations against ISIS were draining existing arsenals of smart bombs, necessitating an uptick in production to maintain the operational tempo of Operation Inherent Resolve.

“We are short on things like Small Diameter Bombs,” Harris told lawmakers. “These are not exciting kinds of weapons … but they are absolutely critical to what we are trying to do, not only in North Korea but also in fights in the Middle East.”

Harris delivered the same warning in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2016. “Critical munitions shortfalls are a top priority and concern,” he said at the time. “Munitions are a major component of combat readiness. USPACOM forces need improvements in munitions technologies, production, and pre-positioning, but fiscal pressure places this at risk.”

Mattis’ one-man funding boost will certainly be a boon for weapons manufacturers. As Task & Purpose previously reported, Boeing has ramped up production of both SDB bomb kits and JDAMs in recent months at the behest of both the U.S. Navy and Air Force. And last June, the U.S. Army hit Lockheed Martin with $18 billion to increase production on the Hellfire missiles that adorn the now-ubiquitous MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper drones, the latter of which just received an upgrade to carry the ultra-effective GPS-guided JDAMS.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump promised to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” if elected, and he’s since made good on that pledge: An Air Force Central Command said in April that U.S. forces had deployed nearly 11,000 munitions against ISIS targets in the first three months of Trump’s administration, a 62% increase over the same period in 2016.

If the Pentagon’s 2018 budget request is any indication, Mattis is on board with this plan — and he’s absolutely playing for keeps.

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

Read More Show Less

President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

Read More Show Less

BYESVILLE — A Meadowbrook High School student removed from class last Friday for being intoxicated is now facing a felony charge after allegedly threatening to shoot people if the previous incident harmed his chances to join a branch of the United States military.

Gabriel D. Blackledge, 18, of Cambridge, is facing one count of making terrorist threats, a third-degree felony, filed by the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office on Thursday. Blackledge remained incarcerated in the county jail on a $250,000 bond with no 10 percent allowed, according to the sheriff's office's website.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that no U.S. troops will take part in enforcing the so-called safe zone in northern Syria and the United States "is continuing our deliberate withdrawal from northeastern Syria."

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier on Friday said Turkey will set up a dozen observation posts across northeast Syria, insisting that a planned "safe zone" will extend much further than U.S. officials said was covered under a fragile ceasefire deal.

Read More Show Less