President-elect Donald Trump has found his Secretary of Defense. On Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016, he announced his choice for the position is retired USMC Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The 66-year-old general served in the U.S. Marine Corps for over 40 years. Originating from Pullman, Washington he enlisted in the Corps in 1969, and went on serve tours in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He served as the head of US Central Command and oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan until his retirement from the military in 2013.
An official announcement is expected on Monday about the President-elect’s appointment for Secretary of Defense. The main hurdle for Mattis’ to be appointed to the head of Pentagon is a federal law stating that Defense Secretaries must not have been on active duty for seven years. Congress had only granted an exemption for this law in 1950 when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed the job.
Mattis is widely regarded as one of the most influential military leaders of his generation, a strategic thinker who occasionally drew rebukes for his aggressive talk. One of his most controversial stances is that of “political Islam.” He has stated, “Is political Islam in the best interest of the United States?” Mattis answers his question with a resounding no. Then adds the U.S. needs to discuss the matter. His opinion is that the question must be asked, or else it will be unlikely that the leaders will know which side of the fight is America’s.
This statement, among others, has been the base for the rebuke from his superiors but it has also been the base of his popularity among the troops and citizens alike. Mattis knows he will be inheriting a mess from Obama’s poorly run Pentagon and many failed foreign policies. The current administration was very loose and hands off on matters concerning the Middle East, whereas, Mattis favors a much tougher stance on U.S. enemies abroad, especially Iran.
He knows that policies in this age tend to shift towards ISIS or al-Qaeda, but he also recognizes the fact that “the Iranian regime is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” Not since General Patton, of WWII fame, has a military leader been so popular with both troops and civilians.
Mattis’ long service career, staunch conservative values, and awe-inspiring genius in diverse fields make him stand out. He is known among those in the Corps as a straight shooter, in and off the field of combat. The General generates a rare sense of reverence from his troops. He knows that he has several problems to deal with if Congress passes an exemption and he becomes the Secretary of Defense.
On the other hand, Mattis knows how to tackle the issues of not just the Middle East but also of the Department of Defense, National Security, and the U.S. Military. His willingness to get the job done, no matter the cost or means might come off as Machiavellian to most. To those who know the challenges America faces in the years to come, his views and talents seem to be what is needed in U.S.
By Trey Hines
Edited by Cathy Milne
Washington Post: Trump picks retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for secretary of defense
USA Today: Trump picks Mattis for Defense Secretary
Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Trump Taps Retired General ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as Defense Secretary
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