CABINET/DEFENSE/JAMES MATTIS: "Quizzed on his plans to defeat Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria, he said the U.S.-led coalition air attacks and other operations that President Obama began in mid-2014 need to be put on 'a more aggressive timeline.'
He described Russia as a 'strategic competitor,' not a partner, citing U.S. opposition to Moscow’s aggressive military interventions in Syria and Ukraine.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Trump has repeatedly praised, is trying to 'break' the NATO military alliance created to oppose the Soviet Union during the Cold War and expanded ever since.
The United States, he added, must use 'diplomatic, economic, military and alliance steps, working with our allies, to defend ourselves where we must,' Mattis said."
– “James Mattis draws little flak at confirmation hearing to head Defense Department,” Los Angeles Times, Jan 12, 2017, W. J. Hennigan, 1/12/2017