WASHINGTON, December 2, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump confirmed he is nominating retired four-star General James Mattis as his Secretary of Defense. Mattis, a career military officer, was previously part of the Obama Administration, but fell out of favor for his outspoken criticism of President Obama’s policies.
In 2014, Mattis publicly criticized President Obama’s plan to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2016.
In a stroke of media genius, Trump made the announcement during a rally in Cincinnati, bringing his constituents into his inner circle with the announcement:
“We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense,” “But we’re not announcing it ’til Monday, so don’t tell anyone — Mad Dog. He’s great. He is great.”
BREAKING: Trump announces James Mattis pick for Secretary of Defense during Cincinnati "Thank You" rally https://t.co/8g1P3El17G
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) December 2, 2016
Trump’s appointment of Mattis echoes his intention of taking a tougher stance against U.S. enemies abroad, especially Iran. General Mattis is known as a brilliant military strategist who was the 11th Commander of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM – 2010-2013) where he was was responsible for American military activities in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
President Obama appointed Mattis to replace General Petraeus, who is said to be on the short list for Secretary of State, on August 11, 2010.
Mattis commanded the United States Joint Forces Command from November 9, 2007 to August 2010 and served concurrently as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation from November 9, 2007 to September 8, 2009.
Prior to that, he commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force, United States Marine Forces Central Command, and 1st Marine Division during the Iraq War.
Most recently, General Mattis led the 1st Marine Division’s movement into Baghdad during the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq. Mattis is a hardliner on Iran. However, he has said that instead of “ripping up” the Iran deal, the US should capitalize on the positives of the deal and revamp the negatives.
However, Mattis is highly skeptical of Iran. He once told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the Iranian regime, not groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, are “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”
A beloved leader that respects the sacrifices of his soldiers, following his retirement, the General took two weeks to travel the U.S. to meet the families of the soldiers that fell under his command.
Although Trump has named Mattis as his choice, Mattis officially is not yet eligible for the position. Federal law states that retired service members must wait seven years after serving on active duty before they can hold the office of secretary of defense or other senior civilian defense positions.
Trump will ask Congress to change that law., the 1947 National Security Act which set a 10-year limit on Military persons returning to service after working in the public sector. Congress granted an exception in 1950 when General George C. Marshall was appointed as Defense Secretary. In 2008, Congress changed the law to a seven year period.
General Mattis will inherit the ongoing air campaigns in Iraq and Syria and the thousands of troops deployed in Iraq training local forces and elite troops who are targeting leaders of ISIS. Mattis will also see the continued war against Taliban and al Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan drag on as well having to deal with the aggressive Russian military and China’s ambitious movements in the South China Sea.
If confirmed, the Defense Department will be run by a general who has received consistent high praise throughout his 44 years of service.
In addition to “Mad Dog,” General Mattis also has the nicknames of CHAOS, an acronym for “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution” and “The Warrior Monk” due to an extremely large personal library filled with more than 7,000 books, many on military history, that those that know him say “he actually reads”.
According to those insider’s General Mattis is able to quote “Sun Tzu, Ulysses S Grant, George Patton, Shakespeare, and the Bible” and he has been known to carry into battle a book containing quotes from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher.
The General is unmarried.