On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee will interview Secretary of Defense nominee, retired Marine Corps General James Mattis.
Mattis raised concerns for some communities, like Great Falls, when in 2015 he testified about whether the current U.S. nuclear "triad" of ICBM’s, submarine-based missiles, and bombers, is necessary.
Mattis said the move to a two-pronged delivery system could lessen the number of nuclear missiles, and reduce the chances of a false launch.
However, the Montana Defense Alliance, which lobbies for Malmstrom Air Force Base, says those comments are not worrisome.
"In the recent past we had the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel that came in and had some concerns and thoughts about the nuclear mission in general. As his term went on and he became fully aware of what each leg does and the value that each leg brings. He left the office as a big fan of the nuclear mission. I would suggest that time will help this next Secretary of Defense fully understand the mission as well. Once they understand it they are all going to be big fans of it, just like we are," said David Weissman, chairman of the Montana Defense Alliance.
CBS News notes that there’s a potential legal obstacle to Mattis’ confirmation: U.S. law prohibits members of the military from serving as defense secretary “within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.”
Mattis, who retired in 2013, is three years short — so the Trump administration must seek a Congressional waiver in order to get him confirmed.
CBS News also reports that Mattis takes a harder line on Russia than the president he would serve, having said that he considers Russia a major threat to the U.S., and he has said Russia wants to “break NATO apart.”
Mattis also opposes waterboarding, a practice Mr. Trump has said he wants to bring back under his administration.