Looks like 'Mad Dog" James Mattis may get SECDEF

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Looks like 'Mad Dog" James Mattis may get SECDEF

EDITOR'S Notes: 1) This is not an endorsement of Mattis for SECDEF, merely noting the news articles pertaining to it.  The American Legion by virtue of its Constitution cannot endorse for any political position or preferment.  2) There won't be any more postings this week.  Go out and have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Every Marine I've ever met essentially worships Mattis.  And now it looks like he may get the top spot at the Pentagon:

James Mattis, the retired Marine general who is under consideration to be Donald Trump's secretary of defense, is beloved among military types for publicly proclaiming the things many of them whisper in private.

In 2005, for example, he was speaking at a panel discussion in San Diego, when he described how enjoyable it can be to kill the enemy in war.

"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling." 

Despite the way he talks, which may be the most blunt of all time, he can also be very cerebral.  There's a pretty good article at Slate that shows his sort of yin and yang between intellectual and brawler:

Mattis embodies the risk-taker's mix of head and heart. You can see it on the walls of his library. As one of nine combatant commanders, he was assigned the sprawling 17,000-square-foot Virginia House on Norfolk's huge Navy base. Unmarried, Mattis lives alone (Warrior Monk is one of his many nicknames). Walking into his pristine house I felt like I needed an admission ticket until I got to the two well-used rooms off a back hallway. The library shelves are packed with histories and military manuals. In conversation, Mattis regularly gets up to retrieve a volume—to cite a passage about the insurgency in Algiers or show a table about fuel use in the initial sprint into Iraq.

The photographs that hang on the wall space not devoted to books testify to the less cerebral side of Mattis' personality. One of his favorite photographs of many from his combat tours shows the men of the platoon he traveled with in Iraq. He did not command from a remote location as some generals do but made regular tours into the thick of the action. (In a five-month period in 2004, 17 of his platoon's 29 members were killed or wounded.) In another photograph, he's a young lieutenant in full combat gear, staring into the screaming mouth of his commanding officer. He is being chewed out for getting into a drunken bar fight the night before.

As his wiki page notes:

Mattis is also noted for his intellectualism and interest in military history,] with a personal library that once included over 7,000 volumes, and a penchant for publishing required reading lists for Marines under his command.

But more than anything, it's his quips that get the most air time.  Here's a few of his highlights:

  • “I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.”
  • “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f*** with me, I’ll kill you all.”
  • “Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.”
  • “There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline, cunning, obedience and alertness, you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim.”
  • “I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”

So obviously he has a Churchill type speaking style.   And he's not as big a hawk as his comments appear, it's just that once the fight has started, he'll burn the whole area to the ground Sherman style in order to win.  

Now, it's apparently not a done deal, but it certainly appears that Mattis is high on the list.  There is a potential conflict though:

President-elect Donald Trump choosing retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis as his secretary of defense would break with decades of U.S. military history, putting a retired senior military officer in the job 65 years after Congress passed legislation that said it was “the sense” of lawmakers that “no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved.” [...]

Federal law holds that all 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. The time limit was set by Congress in 2008, knocking it down from a 10-year limit first set by Congress in the 1947 national security act.

Apparently though Congress can waive that.  Interestingly, Mattis has been very supportive of Secretary of State John Kerry's two-state policy towards Isreal, so he may have some cross over appeal with Democrats, so this appears to be something that could be overcome.



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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.