On Thursday, Defense Secretary General James “Mad Dog” Mattis dismissed the idea of the U.S. partnering with Russia to battle ISIS in northern Syria, as reported by AOL News. Mattis’ comments come after the Pentagon was reportedly considering sending ground troops into the country to support Russia in the fight against the Islamic State.
Trump has been listening to new ideas on how to tackle ISIS in a quick fashion. The Russia collaboration was a possible idea, but during a press conference at NATO’s Brussels headquarters, Mattis said that now is not the time for such a team effort. His words come soon after Gen. Michael Flynn resigned from his National Security Advisor post over ties to Russia, and Trump dismissed intelligence reports Russia has their hands in U.S. affairs. Mattis, however, did express confidence in findings that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. election:
“We are not in a position right now to collaborate on a military level. But our political leaders will engage and try to find common ground … Right now, I would just say there’s very little doubt that they have either interfered or they have attempted to interfere in a number of elections in the democracies.”
Mattis’ remarks arrive the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu said they wouldn’t mind restoring cooperation between their country and the U.S. Yet the U.S. defense secretary said he would not directly respond to the Russian statement. He also noted that NATO is a major ally in this fight. Mattis had nothing but glowing things to say about NATO, saying the U.S.’s commitment to the group is “rock solid.” The statement is interesting, for Trump has criticized NATO in the past.
However, Mattis reportedly gave the group an ultimatum during a closed door meeting. He said if NATO doesn’t increase their defense spending, the U.S. would reconsider its stance. So, not everything is rosy, but Mattis is stressing the positives.