President Elect Trump’s Cabinet picks have been somewhat of a mixed-bag for Conservatives but there’s one that I absolutely applaud: USMC General James “Mad Dog” Mattis for Secretary of War…I mean…Defense…
There’s been a ton of news coverage related to Mattis, since news was leaked that he was on the short-list for the job. The Left hates him, Terrorists fear him and Marines love him. If you’re going to lead the military, that’s about as good an endorsement set as you can ask for.
In the midst of the controversy and positive hype orbiting Mattis’ selection, more than a few of us have wondered about the man behind the myth. The General was long ago became part of Corps Lore and we wanted to know about who he really is.
Thanks to an interview with one of the General’s former protective agents, we now have some of that insight. Read the full interview here. I’ve included some of my favorite passages below:
Mattis and Politics
Politically, he’s not very vocal, but he’s definitely a leader’s leader. He’s a firm believer in lead from the front. There were times when he would take people’s places. One of the stories we’d hear before he even got to us was when he was at Twentynine Palms, he took over for a young Marine standing at the gate so that the Marine could spend time with his family on Christmas.
He’s a great orator. He knows exactly what he’s going to say before he says it. Excellent memory. He’s an avid reader of history. Start talking history with him and he will talk about it to no end.
Listening Down the Chain of Command
He was well known for bypassing all the senior leadership and going right to the junior guys, directly to the junior Marines, junior soldiers in my case, with “What do you think about this? What do you think about the situation?”
He valued everyone’s opinion. In fact, one time we were having a barbecue for the detail. It was right before I left, we had a lot of guys leaving at the time. So we decided we’d all get together, everyone from the staff down. Throw some chicken on the grill, burgers, hotdogs, pull all the cars out, with tables, everybody could come in, sit down, and have what they want. He was invited. And Little John and Joanne, my kids, were there. They were about 7 or 8 years old.
So General Mattis says to John, “I’m General Mattis. You can call me Jim.” John, says, “Hi.” General Mattis says to him, “You know, your Dad’s my boss.” And John says, “Well, no, you’re his boss, you’re the general.” And General Mattis says, “When your dad tells me to do something I don’t question him. If he says we’ve got to move, I’m going to move. If he says jump, I’m going to say how high.” And John says, “But you’re the general. You’ve got the stars.” John points to his stars, four of em there, and he says, “Well, these … I wear these for the ladies [laughs]. And John in his infinite youthful wisdom says, “That’s keeping it real, brother,” to General Mattis. He laughed.
Sense of Humor
We were going to an exposition in Virginia Beach. We’d just gotten a new Suburban. And we’re driving around in em and he says to me, “So John, how do you like these new trucks.” I said, “They’re ok, sir. Not quite as quick as the old one.” He says, “Do you think you can get one of these to drift?” Like slide sideways. I said, “Well, I don’t know.” He says, “I’ll tell you what – what’s the drive up to where we’re going look like?” I said, “Well, we’re gonna hang a right to the side street, a right into the entryway into the parking lot, then a long left-hand concrete ramp to the 2nd floor drop-off point.”
He’s says, “Okay, If you take that first right just a bit we can tail out making that second right, and then get it into a four-wheel drift going up that ramp, then you stop us right where we need to be. Stop and we’ll all jump out and run combat role and come up on ‘em.” I go along with him – “Sure, we can do that.” Well, the boss of the protection team didn’t have the same sense of humor. Apparently he didn’t realize I was joking about it, especially when I made that first right turn, I goosed it a little bit, and he grabs my arm. The General says, “Let’s do this.” I had to say, “No sir, we can’t,” and cut it back. But he had a great sense of humor.
What Makes him Great
Trust in your subordinates. That’s why he wanted to go down to the lowest level and ask, “Do you guys know what we’re doing here?” Find the boots on the ground and say, “Hey guys, why are we doing this?” What is your piece in this big huge puzzle, and get to the lowest level guy and have a conversation with him saying here’s why you’re doing it. If you don’t fully understand, I’ll help you understand. And I’m not going to talk to you like you’re stupid to explain it to you. Your sector of fire in this firefight is as important as the sector of fire a mile away. Because if your sector fails, it puts the others at risk. Everything else crumbles in from there. I think that’s one of his greatest strengths – that ability to talk to people and get information all the way down to the lowest level, and get their input on what they think and help them understand what he’s saying.