Some variant of the phrase 'disrupting, dismantling, and defeating' al Qaeda would now become Obama's equivalent of Bush's war-on-terror mantra. At the VFW National Convention in Phoenix, for instance, Obama repeated the mantra of disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies through a comprehensive, regional strategy that focused on the remote tribal areas of both Pakistan and Afghanistan. In prepared remarks to the Senate Armed Services Committee on December 2, Secretary of Defense Gates dutifully reiterated the core goal of disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He placed particular emphasis on the problematic status of the nuclear-armed ally where terrorists had found safe haven. Defeating al Qaeda and enhancing Afghan security were 'mutually reinforcing' missions, Gates insisted, as the Taliban and al Qaeda had become symbiotic, 'each benefiting from the success and mythology of the other'.