Friday, January 13, 2017

Mattis at Odds With Trump on Russia, Backs Women in Combat |

Mattis at Odds With Trump on Russia, Backs Women in Combat |

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis set out positions at odds with the campaign statements of President-elect Donald Trump on Russia and Iran at his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday to become the nation's 26th secretary of defense.

Mattis also pledged to keep in place the current policies opening up all military occupational specialties, including combat jobs, to women and allowing gays to serve openly.

Trump has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and suggested working with the Kremlin to combat terrorism, but Mattis used his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee to warn against Russian aggression in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.

"History is not a straightjacket, but I've never found a better guide for the way ahead," Mattis said, pointing to the failures of U.S. policy since World War II in improving relations with the Soviet Union and now Russia.

"Right now, the most important thing is that we must recognize the reality" of Putin's continuing adversarial policies, he said.

Mattis said he would seek to bolster the NATO alliance and "defend ourselves where we must" against Russia. He said he had discussed Russian aggression with Trump and "he's shown himself to be open" on the issue, but "he understands where I stand."