The 2010 Joint Warfighting Conference continued Wednesday in …
Updated: Thursday, 13 May 2010, 5:18 PM EDT
Published : Thursday, 13 May 2010, 5:18 PM EDT
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The annual Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach wrapped up Thursday with an address from the Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, who took everyone to task - from terrorists to the news media.
"I mean I'm probably the last person that ought to be giving public affairs advice," General James Mattis told the attendees to much laughter.
Gen. Mattis has a reputation for speaking his mind and keeping his audience interested, and he certainly lived up to that reputation Thursday.
"We're either your best friends or your worst enemy, but we're coming into this area to make a difference," Mattis told the crowd, adding perspective to his view that American and Coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan must be willing to take risks to avoid inflicting civilian casualties.
"This enemy wants us to take them on in a way that actually hurts the innocent people, the bystanders in the target area," said Mattis.
The general said coalition forces are winning the war in Afghanistan on the battlefield, but losing on another front.
"The enemy is winning at times in the press. We all know that," said Mattis.
He also said the media too often uses a passive voice to describe terrorist attacks.
"How many of us have heard that? 'A bomb went off in Baghdad today,'" Mattis asked. "No, a bomb didn't just go off in Bhagdad today. Some murderous thugs who knew there were women and children in that market place intentionally blinded, burned and maimed people."
When asked about Defense Secretary Robert Gates remarks last week about tightening the defense budget, Mattis said he welcomes cost cutting proposals.
"Those who say that we've got to have more and more money for defense, if in fact what we're doing is breaking the national treasury, then we're operating against the real goal that all of us have and that is a strong America," he said.
The address by Gen. Mattis was the final event at this year's conference.
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