President-elect Donald Trump confirmed reports (at a rally in Cincinnati) that he will nominate retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as his secretary of defense.
“We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense,” Trump told a rally in Cincinnati, the first stop on a post-election “thank-you tour.”
“Mad Dog” is only one of the general’s nicknames. “Chaos” and “Warrior Monk” are two others; the “monk” part is due to his bachelor status.
Mattis is well known in Congress and should face an easy confirmation by the Senate, the Military Times reported. Congress will also need to pass an exemption to the law barring officers who have been on active duty in the last seven years from serving as SecDef. Only one other such exemption has been granted: to Gen. George C. Marshall.
The retired general is a no-nonsense hawk, especially regarding Iran, which put him completely at odds with the Obama administration.
Imagine if President Truman had made Gen. Douglas MacArthur his secretary of defense instead of James Forrestal, Louis Johnson and Marshall. The Russians and Chinese would have taken that as a sign of inevitability. This is precisely what Mattis means to Iran, and they should indeed worry.
An intellectual, Mattis authored a report as a national security fellow for the Hoover Institution last August.
“If the world feels more dangerous to you, it should,” the report states. “We are seeing the results of 20 years of the United States operating unguided by strategy. We have been slow to identify emergent threats and unwilling to prioritize competing interests; we have sent confounding messages to enemies and allies alike. Our country urgently needs to up our game, make common cause with countries that are willing to help repair and sustain the international order that has served the United States and our allies so well.”
Mattis is also very concerned with the widening disconnect between the civilian population and the military culture. He is co-author of a book titled “Warriors & Citizens” on the topic.
His research found that one in three Americans have little or no familiarity with the military, and half of Americans cannot recall socializing with a service member or military spouse within the last year. This may point to at least one of his priorities as defense secretary: bridging the so-called civil-military divide.
“There are many people who do not know if the U.S. Army has 60,000 men or 6 million,” Mattis told Military Times when the book was published in September. “They do not have a clue about that.
“America is quite right to be proud of their military, but at the same time there has got to be a sense of common purpose between these two elements. If, in fact, this gap grows and we lose the sense of common purpose, then I think we have a problem.”
It’s likely that the Marine will oppose much of (or all of) the social engineering and “progress” the Obama administration has championed over the past eight years. He might be more focused on making the public more aware of military order and discipline, the concepts of honor, mission and purpose, than making the military more like the anything-goes civilian culture it defends.
That’s perfectly fine with me. The military exists for a purpose, and that purpose is not to reflect the mainstream culture of civilian America. That purpose is to defend America against her enemies, find the enemy, kill the enemy, and destroy the enemy’s ability and will to fight. Anything else is subservient to those goals.
His colleagues sing his praises.
“The president-elect is smart to think about putting someone as respected as Jim Mattis in this role,” said a former senior Pentagon official. “He’s a warrior, scholar and straight shooter — literally and figuratively. He speaks truth to everyone and would certainly speak truth to this new commander in chief.”
Mattis has the clear head, straight talk, and the warrior’s demeanor to get that done: squared away, as the Marines say.