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Mattis lauds McCain at Pentagon briefing

(28 Aug 2018) Secretary of Defense James Mattis lauded the late Sen. John McCain in remarks about the Pentagon’s defense strategy and $717B defense budget for the upcoming fiscal year. (Aug. 28)

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US defense chief visits China as tensions simmer

US Defense Secretary James Mattis meets Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe in Beijing on his first ever visit in China.

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Mattis Talks Immigration, Space Force, Korea

Before meeting with German Federal Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis commented on immigration policy, President Donald Trump’s announcement of a Space Force, and US relations with the Koreas. (June 20)

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Gen. Dunford Says Targets Linked To Chem Weapons

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford said on Friday that “the targets that were struck and destroyed were specifically associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons program.” At the Pentagon, Chairman Dunford and U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis briefed reporters. (April 13)

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Mattis: US Aim in Syria is Still Defeating ISIS

US Defense Secretary James Mattis testified Thursday that the role of the US in Syria is to defeat Islamic State militants, not get involved in that country’s civil war. (April 12)

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Trump’s Transgender Military Ban Is Stressing Out Deployed Soldiers (HBO)

The Trump Administration’s newly-released guidelines on banning transgender people from serving in the military may not be in effect yet — but some transgender troops currently serving say the policy is already taking its toll on their community.
Blake Dremann​, an active duty Navy Lieutenant Commander who also leads an association of LGBT service members called SPARTA, told VICE News he’s already heard from other transgender military personnel who’ve been discriminated against.

“My superiors have been very supportive. But we have had service members who have experienced discrimination — typically along the lines of, they don’t agree that we’re able to serve. They don’t like the policy and they refuse to follow the regulations,” Dremann​ said.

The Trump Administration’s ban, which President Trump announced via tweet last summer, has yet to take effect because it’s been blocked in the courts, after a handful of LGBTQ rights organizations challenged the proposal last year.

But the Administration is still moving forward with crafting guidelines and policy around the ban, and on Friday the White House released a new, more specific memo endorsing a handful of recommendations from a Department of Defense panel convened to study the issue. The panel recommended — and Defense Secretary James Mattis signed on to — banning individuals who’ve undergone gender confirmation surgery in the past, or plan to in the future, from enlisting.

Dremann​ said he fielded texts all weekend from transgender people currently serving in the military, confused about what the new policy means for them.

“We’re expected to be tough-minded,” Dremann​ told VICE News. “And while it is going to add stress to their deployment, the expectation is that they will be able to deal with that.”

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How The U.S. Is Helping Saudi Arabia Fight A Controversial War In Yemen

The Senate rejected a resolution Tuesday seeking to end U.S. involvement in Yemen’s spiraling civil war, which has killed thousands of civilians and thrown the country into the “world’s worst humanitarian crisis,” according to the United Nations.

In a closer-than-expected result, lawmakers voted 55-44 against curbing U.S. military activity in Yemen, narrowly defeating the bipartisan legislation put forward by Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. But human rights advocates were heartened by what they believe is a growing opposition to America’s unconditional support for Saudi Arabia’s controversial campaign in Yemen.

“Today should have been the day that the Senate moved to end U.S. involvement in this catastrophe.” said Scott Paul, Oxfam America’s policy lead for Yemen. “But it is clear from today’s debate that the tide is turning,”

Paul was likely referring to the timing of the vote, which, despite urgent requests from the White House and the Pentagon, took place just as Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman visited with President Donald Trump at the White House. Trump praised the young leader as a “very great friend” to America; hours later the Senate debated the bill.

Congressional leaders sought to use the Crown Prince’s much-touted visit to press the White House and its powerful Middle East ally to end the brutal war in Yemen, along with the U.S. military’s involvement in it. They did so while facing opposition from the executive branch and the military. Ahead of the visit, Secretary of Defense James Mattis penned a personal letter to U.S. senators, urging them to halt the vote, and warning that such an effort risked straining relations and compromising American interests in the region.

But there’s a reason the senators pressed forward with the vote. Bin Salman may be touted as Saudi Arabia’s young modernizing reformer, but he is also widely considered the architect of the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, which has had disastrous results for the country and its civilians.

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EU agrees common defence is NATO ‘mission alone’: Mattis

The transatlantic alliance and the EU agree “the common defence is a NATO mission alone,” US Defence Secretary James Mattis said Thursday after talks on Brussels’ own new defence pact. SOUNDBITE