tv General Joseph Dunford Discusses U.S. National Security Priorities CSPAN March 3, 2017 6:12pm-7:13pm EST
categories. you can log on to our website, 30 minutes before our big announcement, to view all 150 winning documentaries at student cam.org. be sure to watch the announcement of our student cam 2017 grand prize winner wednesday, march 8th at 8:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. next, the chair of the joint chiefs of staff, general joseph dunford, discusses a number of global threats including isis, north korea, iran and russia and what the u.s. is doing to address them. he spoke at the brookings institution in washington, d.c. recently for about an hour.
>> good morning, everyone. welcome to brookings. i'm mike o'hanlon with the foreign policy program. i have the extraordinary honor of welcoming the 19th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general joseph dunford, for a conversation that will begin up here and then include you in this period between 10:00 and 11:00 today. happy spring to all of you in this 70 degree day in washington. there's been a lot going on in the world. i will begin with the fact that just to prove how nice of a guy he is, general dunford even though i'm a georgia guy, has not taunted me about the outcome of the super bowl yet. he's got the least obnoxious patriots fan i have ever met. >> i was actually waiting for a larger audience. why would i waste that insight? >> he's a native of boston as you might have gathered.
he grew up there, went to boston college high school and st. michael's college, then officer candidate school. joined the marine corps after college graduation. he's a marine infantry officer by background and profession. commanded at all different levels throughout his career including the first marine expeditionary force, as many of you know he's had four jobs at the four star level, including xhond commandant of the marine corps and 19th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. i could go on but i think a lot of you would rather hear from general dunford. before we get into questions and discussion, please join me in welcoming the chairman to brookings. >> thanks, mike. >> so general, one of the things i have really benefited from as an analyst trying to make sense of the world is your framework for thinking about threats, the four plus one frame. i think man of us, most of you undoubtedly know it but it's a
straightforward simple frame that there are four major countries we have to worry about. russia, china, north korea and iran. there's also one trans-national threat which is probably a combination of isis, al qaeda and broader -- whatever term you want to use. i wonder if you can do a quick tour of the world. you have been overseas dealing with the four plus one sets of problems for a year and a half now as chairman. i wonder if you could describe a little about how those four threats plus the one have evolved, how you take stock of them. >> sure. first, let me give you a little background on what that framework is and what it isn't. last year, just like in every endeavor you need to benchmark yourself against something. last year as we were trying to decide what our priorities would be moving forward for joint force development, as we were trying to assess the risk that we currently had in meeting our national security objectives, we
came upon looking at the four state threats you talked about, russia, china, iran, north korea, and violent extremism. it's important to say that we didn't look at that as a predictive tool. in other words, that wasn't to imply that we were going to fight russia, china, north korea. we certainly were in a fight against violent extremism. but what we believed was that if we prepared the joint force to deal with one or a combination of those challenges, we would have the right amount of capability and capacity to deal with most assuredly the unexpected. what i tell people is if there's one thing i lrearned in 40 year of active duty it's our degree of humility about our ability to predict the future. one thing i know we will deal with in the future is probably not one of the four plus one but again, when you look at the capabilities represented by those four plus one, particularly today violent extremism, it gives you the full spectrum of challenges we may
face. so what i tell our folks is look, you have to buy into the assumption that if we build a joint force benchmarked against that four plus one framework, we will have in it the inherent capability, responsiveness and flexibility to deal with the unexpected. it's probably important to stipulate that. what do we see when we looked at russia, we saw russia modernizing their nuclear enterprise, full range of mar i maritime capabilities, modern conventional capabilities, cybercapabilities, space capabilities. within the maritime capability, even improvements in their undersea. we see operational patterns that really we haven't seen since i was a captain aboard an amphibious ship in the mid 1980s in terms of where russia is deploying to and the nature much their deployments. the other thing we see when we look at russia, of course, is that i believe that we do have a competitive conventional advantage against russia. i think russia knows that, particularly if you look at the political, military and economic
capabilities of nato. so what do they do? they operate below what i call the threshold of conflict. i describe it as adversarial competition that has a himilita dimension that falls short of conflict. they employ informational operations, cyber, certainly a military posture aspect of it, economic and political influence to advance their objectives. that's what we see. at tend of tthe end of the day doing all that they seek to undermine the credibility much our ability to meet our alliance commitments of nato and the cohesion of the nato alliance would be an objective when we look at russian activity. you have heard the term anti-axis denial so when we will at their capability developments, the implications of those developments are that it would limit our ability to move to europe or then operate within europe in the context of a nato, in the nato response. similarly, so i don't take too much time, when we look at china, we see the same types of
capability development we see in russia. certainly tracking chinese investments is a bit more opaque than russia but we still see a full range of capabilities, many of them oriented to keep us from moving into the pacific theater or operating freely within the pacific theater during a crisis or contingency. clearly with iran, similar capabilities in thaent this anti-axis area ef denial range, more focused on the straits of hormuz as opposed to china's capabilities and most recently, north korea, we see now a combination of both intercontinental ballistic missile capability as well as an effort to put a nuclear war head on that intercontinental ballistic missile so north korea not only threatens south korea, not only threatens the region but now presents a threat to the homeland as well. when i look at probably the most important thing when we look at the implications, the first one is that we need a balanced
inventory of capabilities and capacities. as a nation that thinks and acts globally, we can't afford to focus on one area or the other. so again that, four plus one gives us the full range of challenges we may face to include the current challenge of extremism. the other point we can explore more in other questions is when lie i look at those challenges it tells me something about character war in the 21st century. one is that virtually any conflict we would be involved with would be in all domains, sea, space, air, land, cyberspace. the second is it would be trans-regional meaning it would cut across multiple whasht we cl geographical combat and commands. i can't imagine any conflict that would be involved in the future being narrowly focused in one region. it would have trans-regional implications right away then multi functional. i think again e when when we lo
four plus one it helps us understand priorities because we not only look at where we are today but we look at their capability development, at our path of capability development and at the end of the day aps actual about ensuring we maintain a competitive advantage that allows us to advance our interests. that's what we use the framework for. >> very helpful. i was going to follow up on a couple specific issues or threats and then look forward to letting others share in the privilege of asking you some questions. before i ask about russia, and the trump administration's emerging russia policy which i think is a complicated multi-faceted issue, i want to just give you a chance, i think, to reaffirm what i think i heard last week from the munich conference, vice president pence, secretary mattis. it sounds like the united states stands fully behind its article five commitment at this time. is that a fair reading? >> yeah. it's pretty clear the administration, vice president pence, secretary tillerson, secretary mattis, have all reaffirmed our commitment to nato over the past week and i
certainly in terms of where i spend my time, at least once a quarter meeting with all of my chief defense counterparts as a group, then throughout the rest of the year, probably 40%, 50% of my time is with allies and partners, a large chunk of it with nato. i don't think there's any question about our commitment to nato. equally important were the messages delivered, this is what shouldn't be lost in translation, yes, we are committed to nato. two other points. one is burden sharing and the administration asking for more equitable burden sharing, particularly meeting the commitments made in warsaw for each of the nations in nato to meet the 2% of their gross doe m doe mfk product in defense. the third area is something we have been working on pretty hard even before the transition of administrations is to make sure nato continues to transform to be relevant to the security challenges that we confront today and tomorrow as opposed to the security challenges we
confronted yesterday and that of course in nato terms, they talk about it as 360 degrees meaning we not only meet the state challenges nato might face but the non-state challenges that have manifested themselves in terrorist attacks or immigration or other destabilizing activities have had broad political and economic consequences in europe. >> if i could, i wanted to ask you about the trump administration's russia policy and i say this actually with some appreciation that president trump is trying to improve the tenor of u.s./russian relations even though that will be very hard and his two predecessors had the same ambition when they came into office. if i were to take a number of snap shots in the policy right now, we heard mr. trump want to get along with president putin. we also have the back story of what happened last year in our elections. we then have a number of other comments, u.n. ambassador haley has said there will be no lifting of sanctions on russia as long as the crimea issue and aggression against ukraine
continue. we heard a clear statement on that. we heard something similar from secretary tillerson last week. secretary mattis has said there won't be any military to military collaboration but he was saying that at the same time that you were meeting with the general trying to establish at least military to military contact. i think i know how this all fits together but i would rather hear it in your words, recognizing it's a work in progress and in fairness to any administration, one month in, it's pretty hard to come up with a cohees you have cohesive russia policy. love to hear you describe it. >> i will talk to the military dimension of the relationship with russia. first of all, for those who don't know, there's a law in place right now that prevents us from having military to military cooperation. so there's legislation in the ndaa that prevents that. i started many months ago, so understand my meeting with my counterpart, russian counterpart last week was not in done tectht
of a change in policy and had nothing to do with the administration. it would be hard for conspiracy theorists to believe this, the day i met with the general, secretary tillerson was meeting with the foreign minister and general mattis was speaking at nato was coincidence but it truly was. i began in december 2015 a dialogue with my russian counterpart on the telephone. we had wanted to meet for some time and for a variety of reasons, i had an opportunity to actually meet in january. i had to cancel that meeting because it was actually the day na the preside that the president came to the pentagon for the first time. i canceled the meeting in january and we rescheduled for last week. my purpose in meeting with my russian counterpart was to make sure we mitigated the risk of miscalculation and opened up lines of communication that would be effective in the event of a crisis or contingency. i think at a minimum, our military to military relationship should be able to do that. from my perspective, we should
have mil to mil communications with ever nay nation. open the lines of communication in crisis which can be useful to develop interoperability and latent capability to respond to mutual challenges. in the case of russia, it's in the former category which is i wanted to make sure we mitigated the risk of miscalculation, open lines of communication. the only other area where i think we have some discussions is to say where are there areas of mutual interest where our actions can address those mutual interests but i wouldn't use the word cooperation. that was not something we discussed last week nor is it something i have been directed to do. i would in the context of syria as an example talk about deconflicti deconfliction. we have mil to mil engagement with russia in areas where we are enforcing treaties. on the ground in syria we have
communications with the russians and the primary purpose is to protect our airmen and folks on the ground and make sure we have a safety channel open to deconflict in an increasingly complex, crowded area in syria where operations are ongoing, one of the areas we look at is making sure that the current safety channel that we have with the russians, the current communications link that we have between our air operations center and the russian operations center in syria is robust enough to mitigate again risks to the safety of our airmen and people on the ground. so right now, that's kind of where we are with russia. i think it's important for people not to read into the military to military communications any more than what i have just described. that's what it is. again, what's most important is i am restricted by law from cooperating with the russians at the military to military level which is completely different from a communications channel to do the things i just described.
>> one followup on russia. then i want to ask a question 'syria and one about china before opening things up. one of the things we have seen reports of is of course the ongoing russian buzzing of nato aircraft and ships. i for one had hoped some of this might decline a little bit in a trump administration given that they were hopeful presumably that president trump might be a little friendlier towards them and they didn't need to be quite as provocative. were you able to raise that sort of issue? that is the sort of thing you are comfortable talking about? >> one thing i would tell you is in the conversations i had with my russian counterpart, we both agreed not to share publicly the content of those conversations because we didn't want our conversations to be politicized and limit our ability to do what i just spoke about. that's really important. however, we do have what we call incidents at sea and air meetings with the russians every year to address the kind of incidents you talked about, and i did reemphasize the need for those ongoing, that on going
dialogue to be robust. the next meeting will be later this year, where naval forces, europe actually convenes that force. we meet with the russians to talk about these incidents and to ensure there's professional, safe conduct both in the air and at sea and so yes, i did emphasize that and i m fa siemp the need to make sure the process and dialogue we have in place is robust and effective in dealing with those types of incidents which we find unacceptable. >> so now moving to syria, if i could, i'm sure everybody here like i would be fascinated by any sneak preview you might want to give us of the famous 30 day review. that's my first question. but it's not my main question. i think i know what you are going to say. i'm also more interested in a bigger question. we have heard president trump talk a lot understandably so about need to intensify the fight against isis in iraq and syria and perhaps elsewhere and the famous 30 day review is something he promised for a long
time. i know you are working hard at that now. but for those of us who and those much you who have fought the wars in the 21st century, one lesson stands out to me, any tactical military success in the absence of a strong political foundation may not be permanent. we saw for example after the surge in iraq we had amazing military success but then prime minister malaki and others in iraq were able to essentially eliminate the progress because of the way in which sectarian tensions brewed up again and the sunnis essentially tolerated the arrival of isis. i guess my question really is after this 30 day review which is an understandable first step, what has to come next to come up with more political military strategy so that any success is durable and specifically do we need to bring in secretary tillerson and others to think about a strategy to end the syrian civil war, not justify ma just make tactical progress
against isis? >> it's a great way to ask the question because this is a tactical military plan. so far in the development of the plan we have been completely engaged with the state department. secretary mattis spoke with secretary tillerson, i spoke with secretary tillerson, his representatives have been part of the process, the intelligence community has been part of the process, treasury department will be represented in the process. this is a military plan. as you correctly point out, all of us that have participated in these conflicts over the last 15 years realize that anything we do on the ground has to be in the context of political objectives or it's not going to be successful. what i would tell you, though, i can't address the options. we are in the business of providing options to the president. that means the entire team. so we are in the business of providing integrated options to the president to deal with the challenge he's articulated but i can tell you how this will be framed. not only will it be a whole of
government approach but let's talk about the problem we are trying to solve. this is not about syria and iraq. it's about a trans-regional threat. in this particular case, we are talking about isis but it's also al qaeda and other groups that present a trans-regional threat. so when we go to the president with options, it will be in the context of a trans-rooj natureg threat and i would highlight the three things that make it a trans-regional threat. there is obviously the flow of foreign fighters. we estimate probably over 100, 120 countries have provided 45,000 foreign fighters just to syria inand iraq alone. that's one element. the flow of resources is also an area that makes it a characteristic trans-regional threat. the third area is the narrative. so you know, our plan i think to be successful needs to number one, cut the connective tissue between regional groups that now form a trans-regional threat and
so you got to cut that connective tissue and that connective tissue is the characteristics i just described. then working in combination with local forces and coalition forces, drive the threat down to the level where local law enforcement and security forces can deal with that threat and therefore, first and foremost, it's incapable then of planning and conducting operations against the united states which is at the end of the day and i think unapologetically our first priority is to protect the homeland and american people from this threat. also, that's not inconsistent with helping our allies and partners to do the same. >> i will have one more followup on syria, then my final question on china. as people have started to think about political elements of a syria strategy, the president himself talked about safe zones. secretary clinton had talked about safe zones. of course, that begs the question of how do you create a safe zone and protect it. also, we have the looming issue of president assad's future where president obama and president erdogan and others
were very very adamant that he had to go, yet we haven't figured out a way to push him out. he seems like he's in a stronger position than before. putting all this together, does this require that the syria strategy options at least require or consist of not just the stepped up minimum tear clin but thinking about areas in the north and east of syria that might be negotiated with russia and assad that might allow the sunnis to live in some sense under local governance like a rocky kurdistan under the adam period. are those kind of ideas even in the mix? >> i wouldn't talk to specific ideas but what you bring up is a really important point. that is this. as we provide options to the president this is something we are focused on. we need to think about how do the facts on the ground support the political process in geneva that's going to address the long term stability and security inside of syria. so the grievances of civil war have to be addressed. the safety and humanitarian assistance that needs to be provided to people have to be
addressed. then the multiple divergent stake holders' views need to be addressed. i think we all know it's about as complex an environment as you can be, if you just look, you have iran, russia, the syrian regime, obviously, turkish concerns, kurdish concerns, arab concerns, shia concerns, saddam husseini sunni concerns. we do need a vision of how our military actions set conditions on the ground that actually then become the platform from which secretary tillerson goes to geneva to come up with a political solution. again, i think all those variables have to be addressed. i couldn't agree with you more. >> as we look at china, this has been a great concern of president trump across all aspects of the relationship. even though sometimes it's been a little unsettling to watch the process, i have to acknowledge the issues the president has
raised are all pretty legitimate. the nature of china's economic relationship with north korea, china's behavior in the south chin china. in his confirmation hearings at that time not yet secretary of state tillerson talked about how we had to prevent china from further militarizing the islands it had largely created or reclaimed in the south china sea. that ways prs a pretty strong statement and got me thinking how do you do that short of war. then secretary mattis went to the region on his first trip overseas as secretary of defense, a trip generally soon as very very successful by most people and talked about the south china sea himself and said i believe we can handle that largely through diplomatic means. so i'm trying to recognizing mr. tillerson wasn't even secretary of state when he made those comments, i'm trying to fit the pieces together and understand what kind of military enablers
we have to provide the president so that he can successfully handle the south china sea diplomatically and not have to revert to the kind of means that some people have alluded to including mr. tillerson. >> when i listened to him, i didn't see an inconsistency between what then mr. tillerson said before he became secretary of state and what general mattis said. i think most people know there are a number of claimants to the territory in the south china sea and we are not one of the claimants weechlt ha claimants. we have said for a long time the right way to handle that is through international law, the hague ruling last year that specifically related to one of the contested territories in the south china sea. i think what secretary mattis was saying was that these territories which are contested that needs to be addressed politically through a legal framework consistent with international law.
when secretary tillerson said something needed to be done with it, i didn't immediately jump to a military solution. i think completely separate from the south china sea, we have to talk broadly about the purpose of u.s. military posture in the pacific and at the strategic level it's not more, nothing less than a posture sufficient to advance our interests in the region. one of our interests is meeting our alliance commitments in the region, deterring conflict in the region and setting the conditions for us to have, which we always talk about with the pacific nations, we have very strong economic interests in the region, very strong social and cultural interests in the region. so the conditions we set within military posture are designed to advance those interests. so it's not designed specifically for the south china sea. our posture in the pacific as a whole is designed for our broader interests, one of which is the peaceful resolution of territorial disputes.
meantime, a second thing we do, probably more specifically, is we exercise our right of navigation and the international community's right of navigation and our military posture is designed to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows to make it clear that that's the regime that we recognize in the pacific. >> thank you. i will cheat and add one more question in a broad sweeping concluding way which is your four plus one framework you explained this morning is very helpful. as you say, it really covers a lot of not just those five particular threats but a lot of other potential threats. but if there were going to be one more threat that made your list of the top six that you didn't include, what might it have been and i think of admiral mullen famously saying the debt was a national security threat. i think of a lot of people talking about climate change and rising oceans and the encroachment of those kinds of issues on to many coastal regions. think of burgeoning populations around the world and megacities,
something general odierno talks about. we think of pakistan, mostly a friend, we hope, but a complex country with nuclear weapons and complex relationship with us in the afghanistan theater where you commanded forces, of course. so i wonder if there was one obvious next threat that if you were going to have a list of six top threats you would have added. >> yeah. in your question was actually the answer. in the word secretary mattis used recently which i subscribe to is solvency is what he's talked about. i think that probably aligns with what admiral mullen said. we all recognize that the economic strength of our nation is the foundation that we have to build military capability and advance security. just speaking about it strictly in a national security context, our capabilities capacities, that is, what we can do and how much we have to do it with are linked to the strength of our economy and the stability of the
budgets that we have. i think i probably used the word solvency to say if i had to add one more thing to the list it would be that. >> thank you. okay. please wait for a microphone, identify yourself before asking a question. we will start with the gentleman next to where you are. yes. >> good morning. tony bertucca from inside defense. secretary mattis discussed trying to create a new force sizing construct for the military. how much larger do you think the military understoneeds to be? how much do you predict it will grow? what should that force sizing construct look like? thank you. >> i think probably importantly when secretary mattis spoke about a new force sizing construct, he also talked about a new defense strategy which is his responsibility. so i think what's important is that we get the strategy piece in place first and only then can we talk about a force sizing
construct. i would tell you today that we have a national military strategy, we have requirements that we are meeting today. we have contingency plans against which we benchmark the capabilities and capacity of the force and we do have as the chiefs have made pretty clear in testimony, we do have certain areas where we feel like the force is not adequate in capacity or size. but i think what's really important before i would talk about growth with specificity is that we give general mattis a chance to put his thumbprints on a defense strategy from which will flow the force sizing construct. that is, the size and capabilities of the force to meet that strategy, then we will make specific recommendations as to what priorities we ought to have in growing the force to meet the defense strategy. >> over here, please.
>> thanks, mike. i'm barbara slavin from the atlantic council. i would like to draw you out a little more on iran. have you seen any change in their behavior in the persian gulf since general flynn put them quote, unquote, on notice and i think the united states has the "uss cole" off the coast of yemen, and what is your view on the notion of designating the irgc as a terrorist organization given that iran is already a designated state response sore? sponsor? is it a necessary move? >> i will answer the first part but not the second but i will tell you why i won't answer the second part. no, i haven't detected a change in iran's behavior. the one thing i say, i don't say it flippantly, from my perspective, the major export of iran is actually malign influence across the region. they have got a very aggressive proxy war. we see this in yemen, we see
their influence in syria, we see their malign influence in lebanon as well as in iraq and the rest of the region. i haven't seen a change certainly in the past month. this is a pattern of behavior that has manifested itself over many years. as to what economic or political measures may be taken to moderate iran's behavior, i will leave that to others. my lane is the military dimension. so what we have made sure is that within the united states central command it has responsibility for iran, our military posture is there to make sure we have freedom of navigation through the straits of hormuz and that we deter conflict and crisis in the region and we advance our interests to include our interests in dealing with violent extremism of all forms. >> in the fifth row. >> thank you. i manage a defense program for the commonwealth of virginia. i appreciate your comments on
our commitment to our nato partners. i do have a question about that relative to is our support unequivocal in that you mention there needs to be the greater burden sharing and there's tremendous focus on meeting the 2% threshold of gdp. however, according to the 2014 wales summit declaration section 14, it's the third bullet point under the second bullet point relative to our partner states that do not meet that 2% threshold, it says that they should move towards the 2% guideline within a decade. so we are hearing a lot in the narrative of burden sharing that they need to meet the 2% threshold, but there's no mention of they have a decade within which to do so, and at the point in time that the alliance is looking to expand and bring on smaller states such as montenegro and their economies are not necessarily in
the highest standing, with are creating problems adding to the russian state narrative by taking on smaller countries that can't necessarily meet their 2% gdp currently? should we look for alternate arrangements, some type of liaison office with them so that we are not poking the russian bear, or are we really committed to nato within the ten years that we give them under section 14? >> thank you. first of all, with regard to our commitment to nato, i think the administration over the past month has made it clear that we will meet our article five commitments in the full responsibilities that we have as a mb ember of the alliance toda. the administration has been equally clear that they want to make sure all members of the alliance fairly carry the burden of defending. i think general mattis' line was a pretty good line when he was over there saying he can't care more for the children of europe than the european nations do. interesting enough, my
understanding is montenegro does spend 2% of their gdp on defense as an aside. i'm well aware without having spent as much time on the language as you have, although i have read it, that it was aspirational and a goal that was laid out for nato. what we have seen with the trump administration now is increased pressure recognizing the challenges. again, this is all about transforming nato to be relevant to meet the security challenges that we confront today. a recognition that in order to remain viable, in order to remain credible, in order to deter conflict in europe, we need to make sure that nato meets its requirements for defense spending. so i won't speak certainly or try to say what the president meant to say. i'm not going to do that. but i would say that what you have read is not inconsistent with what i heard from the vice
president, secretary of state, secretary mattis or anything else, president trump has said. what he's said is that his expectation is that nato nations carry their fair share of the burden in the alliance and that all 28 nations today inside the alliance with montenegro would be the 29th were that to happen, but all 28 nations in the alliance carry a fair share of the burden. as you know, the united states spends quite a bit more than 2% of the gross doe mmestic producn defense. we represent the largest contributor to nato. it's fair to say we are the backbone of the alliance from a security perspective. i think what president trump has said and we have all taken heart is he wants to make sure the europeans step up and contribute more to our common defense. >> tony. against the wall. >> hi. to what extent does your plan, this military political plan for
iraq, assume an enduring u.s. troop presence, a la what we have in south korea albeit in a smaller number? will the u.s. maintain a footprint there in perpetuity? >> i'm going to disappoint you and just go back and say that we are in the business of providing options to the president and that's what we are doing. so with regard to specificity as to what exactly we will do and what our force posture will be, i'm not in position to talk about that. >> conceptually, has the iraqi government signaled a -- they think there's a need for an enduring u.s. troop presence? >> we have, as has nato, begun a dialogue about a long-term commitment to grow the capacity, maintain the capacity of iraqi security forces but no decisions have been made yet and again, we will bring options to the president and he will have an opportunity to choose those options and that will then involve a dialogue with the
iraqi government. but yes, iraq has begun to speak and you have heard the prime minister speak about the international community continuing to support defense capacity building in nato term, building partnership capacity in our term, but tho decisions have been made. >> thank you. >> stay here in the same row. >> fox news. for americans watch iing at hom can they expect more u.s. troops will go to syria to defeat isis? >> so, the same answer to a different question. i'm in the business of providing the president with options. and we're prepared to do that. and we've been given a task to go to the president with options to accelerate, accelerate the defeat of isis, specifically, but obviously, other violent extremist groups as well, and so we will go to him with a full range of options from which he can choose. >> that includes more u.s. troop sns. >> i will go to the president with options.
>> over to the first row here. to the woman in purple. >> thank you. i'm a social anthropologist by trade, so i'm going to ask a very different question. i'm going to give you a challenge. which is apple computer has the best saying, which is if you don't know ask, we all learn together. i came to the pent fwon 40 years again, asking a question shows your ignorance. i think we have to reward curiosity, but you are going to have to give people permission. so if you were to send out a message to all of the defense department saying i want you to put on the wall of every room that wone f you don't know ask, we all learn together, u you would change the behavior and increase the speed of learning in defense and in a world that is changing so fast. this might be worth it.
they're a good model. >> let me maybe just say something that would set that tone and i would say this sincerely. so, four years ago as a secretary lieutenant and my level of confidence and answers was right up here and my level of experience was down here. arguably if nothing else, my level of confidence that i have all the answers is as an inverse relationship right now, so, immediately following this, mike's been kind enough to get experts on russia together so i can talk to him. i spend a fair amount of my time asking other people questions because most of the problems that we're deal iing with today don't lend themselves to simple solutions. the only people that have simple solutions to complex problems are refugees from accountab accountability. if you you're responsible for something, you have to take into account all aspects of the problem, so, if i take your
point. that is a tone that we need to set in the department, intellect yul curiosity should be viewed add a strength and rewarded. i couldn't agree more. i like to think in one of the areas i'm responsible for is joint professional military education. and i like to think that we've instilled that in our schoolhouse. it will take our challenge and question as an opportunity to ask some questions about whether or not we are really taking that to heart in how we're doing, but i couldn't agree more. fwheed to be learning. >> back row standing. >> thank you so much and my name is -- from tv. there are a few reports, especially in "wall street journal," mention that trump administration has asked egypt to host a combined air force that would work with israel. against iran. how do that?
>> i can't comment on that. i don't know anything about it. i'm not failing to respond because i don't have information. i don't know anything about that. >> over here in the sixth row. gentleman in the gold tie, my friend. after that, to pete, chuck lee and work back this way. >> thank you. joe talbot. general, talking about the new plan to defeat isis, should we expect major alterations in the u.s. strategy in syria? for example, should we expect a reduction of elimination of the u.s. support, u.s. military support to the kurds or the syrian opposition? >> you know, actually, i'm not trying to be evasive, but i find myself answering this question similar to a couple of previous questions. this is an incredibly complex environment. everything we do or fail to do will have second and total
effects. what we are trying to do in outlining options for the president is to outline the options that exist for dealing with the isis threat, the most immediate, most veer lent strain, but to clear lir outline for him the consequence, the opportunity costs, the risk associated with each one of the options that we present him, so i think it is fair to say we provide him a full range of options and when we provide him option, we'll talk about the importance of our turkish ally and making sure that our plans are consistent with maintain in a strong alliance with turkey. we'll talk about the implications of the kurdish challenge, which as you know, is not isolated to one particular kurdish group, but many groups that have interest. we'll talk about the complexity of dealing with turkish versus iranian interests in the region. the presence of russia an all those regions, so yes, we'll address those issues, but i'm not prepared to say whether or
not there will be a change because the decider is going to be the president of the united states. those of us that work for him to include the secretary of state, the secretary of treasury, the secretary of defense and others in the cabinet, are tasked right now with coming up with an integrated political military plan then in the context of the thread, but also in the context of our long-term interest in the region, provides the best way to balance those two. the need to immediately address the threat to the homeland and to our allies from isis and at the same time, do things in the region that make sense in a bro bro broader context. what we don't want to do is bring him options and i would say opgs like this would not be acceptable. we don't want to bring options to him that solve one problem, only to create a second and we get tasked to look at that. and you know, what i've said to people, is if you would take websters and rewrite it, and
take the word wicked, and say describe the board wicked, you'd are v to look at the problem right now with regard to isis in the middle east in terms of various perspectives that have to be addressed in order to effectively solve that problem. i can tell you in a very thoughtful way, we're wrestling with all those issues, but at the end of the day, we can't be paralyzed by tough choices. we've got to frame them for the president. we've got to clearly articulate the presence of those choices and give him a chance in near future to select one of those to do what he's tasked us to do, that is to bring to him something that will accelerate the campaign. >> i'm going to follow up quickly. you may or may not want to answer this, but i'm just try ing to understand where we are. i remember that president obama took three months to consider the proposal of mckrchrystcchry. we were already there. we had 68,000 troops.
that kind of big decision had already been made. he took three months. i think he had a good reason to take three months. because it was a hard problem. is it fair to president trump took a lot of criticism in the late fall for not taking his president's daily briefing. and you know had other things on his mind understandably, is he going to use some of these conversations with you to sort of learn about the region? in other words, is the presentation of options part of the way to do a deep dive on syria that he hasn't had a chance to do yet? >> i'm actually glad you asked this question because this response to the executive order is not beginning or the end of f the dialogue we've had with the president. we've already since the president had been the president, made changes in the campaign. we make them every day. it's a dynamic environment. we make a dapations. some don't require his authority, some do. i view that the development of options now as an opportunity to integrate all of the government, so that we're all, part of it is
setting a common baseline of understanding for this problem set. in this, in the process of responding to the executive order. that's one of the positive outcomes of doing this. you'd expect any new administration to do that. but u the one thing i would say is this is is not, i wouldn't at all compare this to a general mcchrystal afghanistan decision on troop levels. this is an opportunity for the administration to look at an enduring challenge, to reflect back on what we have been doing over the last couple of years, to think about this problem in a broader context. and then to move forward and do things in a way that accelerates the problem against extremism. again, what's the most important thing we're trying to do? mitigate the threat to the american hoemeland, and our allies and partners and at the same time, move forward. so i view this, look, it's my responsibility. we'd be failing if it wasn't. solving a problem of isis should
be an ongoing dialogue to adapt to a very dynamic threat in a very dynamic political military virm. >> thank you. pete. >> thank you very much for coming. i'm pete, retired state department and retired from brookings. you and the military for the last 20 years have born a huge burden. fighting constant wars. but it's only been born by less than half percent, half of 1% of the country. 99.5% of us are not doing anything other than paying taxes. so, are you worry ied about tha this? are you concerned that such a small percentage of the american public is engaged with you as spothing military, should there be something like national service so that other young people feel connect ed to the country in serving nshl interest sns. >> first thing i'd say and i'm not pandering to the crowd here, but i would say yes.
there is less than 1% of the american people serving in uniform, but there's not less than 1% of the american people involved in trying to involve our national interests overseas. when you look at the sacrifice of the intelligence community, of your counterparts in the state department, you know, quite honestly, i don't think we ought to lose sight that they are integral part of that and frankly, i view us as in spoth of them, particularly those in the state department. my concern with the percentage of the american people that serve in uniform is less about the percentage of people that serve in the military than it is about the american people's aware this has of the service, the sacrifice of our young men and women and then the propensity of other young men and women to serve. i think what we all want to ensure is that we recruit and retain the highest quality men and women we can in the u.s. military, and so in awareness of the option of serving in uniform, in appreciation for the value of serving in uniform,
people viewing that as an honorable thing to do and something that's recognized and appreciated by the nation is much more important to me than the percentage. so what i want is young men and women across the country, whether they want to pursue a career as an enlisted member of the force or as a civilian member of the force or as an officer, would have the consciousness to have that in the front of their mind to make decisions about whether they're going to serve four years or 20 or 30 years and so that's one of the things actually that i've asked our senior leadership to do. is to stay engaged across the country. so that we do continue and i'm proud to tell you, i say this without hesitation. i'm proud to tell you today, yes, it's a small percentage, but i'm pretty proud of the quality of the men and women that we have in uniform right now and i think equally concerned and folked on making sure we maintain that quality in the future, which would be my again my largest concern about that less than 1%.
you know, there are a number of initiatives that talk about national service. in fact, i think ironically, you mentioned stan mcchrystal. he's decisively engaged in one of them. i think that's a very admir admiralable idea. i grew up in a generation of people that viewed you know, service as something you should do as a responsibility and that's why i came in the u.s. military. certainly never intended to make it career, i was raised with hey, you need to do something for people other than yourself, so i think the idea of national service and the idea of contributing to our nation in whatever capacity your skills make you able to do that is a good thing. >> in the fourth row, woman, two people in. florida. >> hi, thanks for coming. caroline hawk, defense one. i wanted to follow up on something you said a bit earlier, that there have been changes in the campaign against the islamic state and terrorism. that doesn't quite reconcile
with some of the messages we've been hearing coming out of the coalition the pentagon broadly, wait for the 30-day review that was when we were going to start to see changes. can you talk more about what those types of changes are and if they're coming down from the new administration. >> i'm glad you gave me a chance to clarify because what i was really referring to is that interacting syria and elsewhere, it's a dynamic environment. every day. there's adjustments being made. some of those adjustments are being made at the lowest tactical level based on commanders of the authorities they have. other decisions are made by the secretary of kedefense, others the president. since secretary mattis has been there, we have a routine process ca called, i won't bore you, but general will ask for capable il to deploy. we'll go to the secretary, make a decision, deploy that capability. we've done that probably three or four times since secretary
mattis has been secretary of defense. so, we make adjustments. we rotate forces. change the force disposition. we change the posture, the communications. those things are being done every day, so i wasn't referring to the broader strategic vector of the campaign so much as trying to articulate there's a tactical and operational and strategic level and if you stay still in this vienvironment, yo are not competitive. that's really what i was alluding to. >> to the back. brown jacket in the middle. >> enough time for one more after that, i think. >> you know, uss -- in south china sea and china's defense minister spokesman said that we wish united states could respect sovereignty and security concerns of countries in the region. and respect the efforts of
countries in the region to maintain peace and stability in south china sea. so could you comment on this and second question. what's the future of the military relationship between united states and the china in donald trump's administration. >> on the first question, what i would tell you is that we do respect sovereignty in the region and what we call access to the global economies. the air space and the sea that's access bable to all. and so, the presence of that aircraft carrier is designed to do what i spoke about earlier, which is exercise our right to operate, to sail, to fly, where ever international law allows. that's what we're doing and we demonstrate that routinely to maintain the sanctity of that framework which has served us so well for over 70 decades in the pacific. in regard to military relationships with china, i think positive relationships are important. i have spoken to my chinese
counterpart and conducted a video teleconference and i expect we'll have a face-to-face visit in the future. i met with a deputy and i'm sure we'll have a chance to meet by counterpart in the near future. as i described earlier, our military military relationships are informed by our national objectives and so the nature of our military to military relationship china right now, will be consistent with our political relationship with china, but at a minimum, open lines of communication to mitigate the risk miscalculation and to address some of the incidents at sea and in the air we've seen like we've talked about russia earlier. we've seen similar incidents with china and i want to do as a military leader all i can do to mitigate the risk of tactical actions having adverse strategic consequences. that's the framework within which we'll begin to develop a relationships with china. and just as a side, we just completed an exercise in thaila
thailand. and both china and india as well as other nation, all exercise there and one of the areas, i think we can all agree on in the pacific is the response hum humanitarian assistance disaster relief. that's an area we can find common ground with all of our friends in the pacific, china included. >> just one more question. the woman in the red hair. just a couple, yeah, right there. >> oh, kim. >> kim of "the daily beast." jim, several times you've referred to violent extremism as something you fight, but i haven't heard you use the phrase radical islam or radical islamic terrorism. is that something you would see the military adopt in a trump administration? >> that is an element of it. you know, there is there's a suny sunni brand, a shia brand, you ought not to read anything
other into my use of the word violent extremism other than really trying to articulate exactly the point i'm making now and you're giving me a chance to, that it involves al-qaeda and hezbollah. it involves isis and other groups that present a trans regional threat. so, you know, again, if you talked about a specific group, i'd give you a more accurate distributor. i was using the term violent ek tre treem to refer to all of those groups, who take up arms to advance directives. that's what i was ewing the term to imply. thanks. >> as we conclude here and speaking of nicknames and such, we've want to thank you everyone for avoiding inside white house drama question, but i'm going to try one, which is we know that president trump likes the nickname mad dog mattis. maybe even more than the