Posted: February 1, 2017 1:40 PM

Mattis Announces Three-Phase Plan to Strengthen Armed Forces

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — Improving readiness, addressing pressing shortfalls and building a more capable force are the near- and long-term objectives of the new defense secretary.

In a Jan. 31 memorandum to senior defense leaders and commanders released Feb. 1, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis outlined a three-phase approach to improving the defense posture of the United States, beginning with an amendment to the 2017 budget.

“To address immediate and serious readiness challenges, we will prepare a [fiscal year] 2017 budget amendment request,” Mattis said in the memorandum. “The amendment will address urgent warfighting readiness shortfalls across the joint force, and new requirements driven by acceleration of the campaign against ISIS [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria]. The amendment may increase force structure in critical areas where doing so would have an immediate readiness impact.”

The amendment would be an increase over the topline of the 2017 budget request, and would be delivered to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) no later than March. 1.

The 2018 budget request is being reviewed with a “focus on balancing the program, addressing pressing programmatic shortfalls, while continuing building readiness,” Mattis said.

The 2018 budget proposal will be delivered to OMB no later than May 1.

A new National Defense Strategy (NDS) will be developed to complement a new National Security Strategy. The new NDS “will include a new force-sizing construct, which will inform our targets for force structure growth,” Mattis said. “It will also determine an approach to enhancing lethality of the joint force against high-end competitors and the effectiveness of our military against a broad spectrum of potential threats.”

The memorandum said that the 2019-2023 defense program “will also contain an ambitious reform agenda, which will include horizontal integration across [the Defense Department] components to improve efficiency and take advantage of economies of scale.”  

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