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Trump's Pentagon Quietly Made A Change To The Stated Mission It's Had For Two Decades
For at least two decades, the Department of Defense has explicitly defined its mission on its website as providing "the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country." But earlier this year, it quietly changed that statement, perhaps suggesting a more ominous approach to national security.
The Pentagon's official website now defines its mission this way: "The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad."
The new mission statement — featured at the bottom of every page on the site — removes the words "to deter war" while adding that it is the Pentagon's job to "sustain American influence" overseas. But strangely, the about page still carries the old mission statement, though it says it has not been updated since Jan. 27, 2017.
This seems a significant change for the department under President Donald Trump, although the Pentagon appears to have made it quietly and with little fuss. The Pentagon's official website, currently at defense.gov and previously at defenselink.mil, has maintained its mission to "provide the military forces needed to deter war" under Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, according to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.
The change happened sometime between Jan. 2 and Jan. 3 of this year.
So what is going on here?
I emailed Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White about this, asking her why the mission changed and who would have approved it. I also asked what the reasoning was behind the decision to remove "deter war" and add "sustain American influence abroad." She did not respond to my questions by press time.
The Defense Department's website on Dec. 12, 1998.The Wayback Machine
The Defense Department's website on Jan. 1, 2018.The Wayback Machine
Still, this seemingly-new mission isn't outlined in the summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy like it is on DoD's website. The document does, however, use some of the old and new language together (emphasis added):
"The Department of Defense’s enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation. Should deterrence fail, the Joint Force is prepared to win. Reinforcing America’s traditional tools of diplomacy, the Department provides military options to ensure the President and our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength," reads the introduction.
It says later: "A more lethal, resilient, and rapidly innovating Joint Force, combined with a robust constellation of allies and partners, will sustain American influence and ensure favorable balances of power that safeguard the free and open international order. Collectively, our force posture, alliance and partnership architecture, and Department modernization will provide the capabilities and agility required to prevail in conflict and preserve peace through strength."
Although at least seven previous defense secretaries served under the website's old mission statement, it appears that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has in this instance made a lasting mark on his office. Besides overseeing this seemingly subtle word change, Mattis wrote an all-hands memorandum in Oct. 2017 stating, "we are a Department of war" — a choice of words harkening back to the DoD's name prior to 1949.
The Marine Corps has tapped a new Silicon Valley defense firm to develop a "digital fortress" of networked surveillance systems in order to enhance the situational awareness of security forces at installations around the world.
Marine Corps Installations Command on July 15 announced a $13.5 million sole source contract award to Anduril Industries — the two-year-old defense technology company and Project Maven contractor founded by Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey and several former Palantir Technologies executives — for a new Autonomous Surveillance Counter Intrusion Capability (ASCIC) designed to help secure installations against "all manners of intrusion" without additional manpower.
This is no standard intrusion system. Through its AI-driven Lattice Platform network and 32-foot-tall autonomous Sentry Towers, Anduril purports to combine the virtual reality systems that Luckey pioneered at Oculus with Pentagon's most advanced sensors into a simple mobile platform, enhancing an installation's surveillance capabilities with what Wired recently dubbed "a web of all-seeing eyes, with intelligence to know what it sees."
The Marine Corps' dune buggy drone jammer may have downed two Iranian drones in the Strait of Hormuz, U.S. military have officials announced.
The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer was transiting the Strait of Hormuz on July 18 when two Iranian drones came dangerously close, according to U.S. Central Command.
"This was a defensive action by the USS Boxer in response to aggressive interactions by two Iranian UAS [unmanned aerial systems] platforms in international waters," CENTCOM spokesman Army Lt. Col. Earl Brown said in a statement. "The Boxer took defensive action and engaged both of these platforms."
Green Beret with terminal cancer meets Trump to rally support for military medical malpractice reform
On July 17, Army Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal briefly met with President Donald Trump at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina to discuss the eponymous legislation that would finally allow victims of military medical malpractice to sue the U.S. government.
A Green Beret with terminal lung cancer, Stayskal has spent the last year fighting to change the Feres Doctrine, a 1950 Supreme Court precedent that bars service members like him from suing the government for negligence or wrongdoing.
The Pentagon is no longer topless. On Tuesday, the Senate voted to confirm Mark Esper as the United States' first permanent defense secretary in more than seven months.
Esper is expected to be sworn in as defense secretary later on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters.
"We are grateful for the Senate leadership and the Senate Armed Services Committee's willingness to quickly move through this process," Hoffman said.
The new trailer for Top Gun: Maverick that dropped last week was indisputably the white-knuckle thrill ride of the summer, a blur of aerial acrobatics and beach volleyball that made us wonder how we ever lost that lovin' feeling in the decades since we first met Pete "Maverick" Mitchell back in 1986.
But it also made us wonder something else: Why is Maverick still flying combat missions in an F/A-18 Super Hornet as a 57-year-old captain after more than 30 years of service?