"What happens if somebody knocks on the door of the oval office and says, 'Mr. President, they've launched,'" Sen. Jim Risch asked.
Mattis replied: "Our ballistic missile defense forces at sea and in Alaska and California... the various radars would be feeding in and they would do what they're designed to do as we make every effort to take them out."
"The response, if that's what you're referring to, would, of course, depend on the president," said Mattis, explaining the president would see a "wide array" of options that include co-operation with U.S. allies.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, testify before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on "The Authorizations for the Use of Military Force: Administration Perspective" on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017.Photo via Associated Press
"Defenses will go. The president will be woken up or whatever, but our commands are... we rehearse this routinely," Mattis said, apparently not wanting to divulge any possibly sensitive information.
"Some judgment would be made over whether a necessary and proportionate response is required," said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
But neither Tillerson or Mattis would categorically rule out a nuclear first strike on North Korea. Both made statements to the effect that if the U.S. knew a North Korean nuclear attack on the U.S. was imminent, that President Donald Trump reserves the right to pre-empt that attack with a launch of his own.
“The fact is that no president, Republican or Democrat, has ever forsworn the first strike capability. That has served us for 70 years,” said Tillerson.
A marble statue memorializing the founder of the U.S. Army Airborne was set on fire Thursday in North Carolina, and museum officials believe it happened because vandals confused it for a Confederate memorial, according to the Dunn Daily Record and other media outlets.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron pump water from a flooded common living area to an area with less impact on the local population, Dec. 13, 2009, in Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force/ Staff Sgt. Sharon Singer)
Islamic state members walk in the last besieged neighborhood in the village of Baghouz, Deir Al Zor province, Syria February 18, 2019. (Reuters/Rodi Said)
NEAR BAGHOUZ, Syria (Reuters) - The Islamic State appeared closer to defeat in its last enclave in eastern Syria on Wednesday, as a civilian convoy left the besieged area where U.S.-backed forces estimate a few hundred jihadists are still holed up.