Pentagon quietly changes 'deter war' mission statement to one that protects America's influence with 'lethal force'

The change occurred sometime this year and was altered to exclude the directive to “deter war”

Clark Mindock
New York
Saturday 30 June 2018 10:45 BST
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The Pentagon's mission statement has been the same for at least 20 years
The Pentagon's mission statement has been the same for at least 20 years (Reuters)

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The Department of Defense under President Donald Trump has quietly changed its public mission statement, altering a decades-old stated goal.

The change occurred sometime this year, according to a column in the veterans-focused news outlet Task & Purpose, and was altered to exclude the directive to “deter war”, while adding a goal to “sustain American influence abroad”.

“The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country,” the previous mission statement read.

Now, the website defines its mission as follows: “The mission of the Department of Defense is to provide a lethal Joint Force to defend the security of our country and sustain American influence abroad”.

Task & Purpose notes that the Pentagon had maintained the previous mission statement through several presidential administrations, including during the tenures of Presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

The Department of Defense would not have had mission statements published online prior to Mr Clinton’s presidency.

The change, according to internet archives, occurred sometime between 2 January and 3 January.

The online change is not reflected in the Pentagon’s 2018 summary of its National Defense strategy, which includes the previous language.

“The Department of Defense’s enduring mission is to provide combat-credible military forces needed to deter war and protect the security of our nation,” that summary says in its introduction. “Should deference fail, the Joint Force is prepared to win. Reinforcing America’s traditional tools of diplomacy, the Department provides military options to ensure the President and our diplomats negotiate from a position of strength.”

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the Defense Department’s changes.

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