Mattis Speaks to GOP Lawmakers at Annual Retreat: ‘I Need to Make the Military More Lethal’

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis / Getty Images

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke to House and Senate Republicans on Thursday at an annual GOP retreat, where he said the military needs to be "more lethal."

During a morning meeting in West Virginia, Mattis spoke about the strength of America’s defense systems and the funding required to keep them running on all cylinders, the Hill reported.

"Take us on and it will be your worst day and your longest day," Mattis said.

Mattis also expressed his frustration with lawmakers relying on short-term continuing resolutions to fund the government, which has forced the Defense Department to operate without a long-term budget. He said the administration needs to approve $716 billion for defense in the 2019 fiscal year, about $50 billion more than President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request for the Pentagon.

"I’m not subtle. I need to make the military more lethal," Mattis said. "Some people think I’m supposed to be an equal opportunity employer."

Mattis appeared at the talk with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and referred to his State Department counterpart by a new nickname: Saint Rex of Texas.