Mattis Discusses Singapore Summit, North Korea, DoD Audit With Reporters


North Korea was a topic in almost all of his bilateral talks with leaders of other nations, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told reporters last night on his return flight from Singapore and his Indo-Pacific region trip.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Australian Minister of Defense Marise Payne and Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera at the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018. Over the past two days at the summit, Mattis has met with several regional leaders to build upon partnerships and discuss defense strategies. DoD photo by Air Force Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Defense Ministers Marise Payne of Australia and Itsunori Onodera of Japan at the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018. The ministers met to build upon their partnerships and to discuss regional security. DoD photo by Air Force Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Australian Minister of Defense Marise Payne and Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera at the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018. Over the past two days at the summit, Mattis has met with several regional leaders to build upon partnerships and discuss defense strategies. DoD photo by Air Force Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.
Mattis in Singapore
Defense Secretary James N. Mattis meets with Defense Ministers Marise Payne of Australia and Itsunori Onodera of Japan at the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, June 2, 2018. The ministers met to build upon their partnerships and to discuss regional security. DoD photo by Air Force Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.

The secretary’s trip first took him to Honolulu to attend the change-of-command at U.S. Pacific Command, now renamed U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

While in Hawaii, Mattis met with his Japanese and Indonesian counterparts May 29.

From Hawaii, the secretary traveled to Singapore to attend the 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue.

“The hopes are on [and] riding with the diplomats,” the secretary said of U.S. relations with North Korea. “This is all pretty -- frankly -- consistent with what we’ve been saying now for a couple of weeks.”

Large U.S. Delegation in Singapore

The U.S. delegation was impressive at the Shangri-La Dialogue, with Congressional bipartisan support and defense and nondefense representation, the secretary said.

“There is a much broader interest in Congress about our presence in the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean,” he said. “[There was] full support for renaming [the former U.S. Pacific Command] Indo-Pacific Command. And by the way, that was also an international decision.

“So the more we can get the congressmen and women out here -- bipartisan, defense and nondefense -- I think that says more about a commitment to Asia than just my going,” Mattis added.

Defense Department Audit

The secretary also spoke to reporters about the Defense Department audit that’s underway, which has “traction,” he said.

“It's an army of auditors going through and taking our programs apart. I just sent a note out to everybody. I just said, ‘We're going to invite the scrutiny. We're going to find the problems,’” he said.

“I know it's uncomfortable to get inspected,” Mattis said. “But this is what's necessary to maintain [Congressional] bipartisan support and the budgets we need.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)