Addressing a throng of supporters at a post-election event in Cincinnati on Thursday evening, President-elect Donald Trump announced his selection of retired Marine Corps General James Mattis to become the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.
General Mattis was an enlistee and ROTC graduate and is known for his affection for troops under his command, carrying the “Meditations of Marcus Aurelius” with him on deployments and evocative comments about the ferociousness of a Marine Corp’s fighting man. Should Mattis be confirmed, he follows General George C. Marshall as the second former career military officer to serve at the Pentagon.
The 66-year-old Mattis is a native of Pullman, Wash., served as a line officer during the Persian Gulf War in 1990, commanding an infantry battalion.
Achieving the rank of colonel, Mattis commanded the First Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Afghanistan and, upon promotion to general, assumed command of the First Marine Division in Iraq, where he distinguished himself among troops for sleeping on a cot and eating standard-issue rations.
After holding various commands in Iraq, Mattis returned to the U.S. to lead the Marine Corps Combat Development Command and was nominated by President George W. Bush to lead U.S. Joint Forces Command in 2007 and by President Obama in 2010 to the position of head of U.S. Central Command.
Following his retirement from the Marine Corps in 2013, Mattis has worked for several defense firms and sits on the board of directors for General Dynamics. Mattis quietly journeyed around the country in retirement meeting with the family members of fallen Marines.
Known to despise bureaucratic meddling and rejecting paperwork, Mattis is an admitted opponent of enhanced interrogation, which may signal possible independence from the President-elect as the Trump administration takes shape.
A lifelong bachelor whose reputation for uttering quotes often creates a buzz, Mattis is best known for instructing young Marines to “engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”
Mattis’ nomination requires a waiver exempting him from a federal law that prohibits former military personnel from leading the Defense Department for at least seven years following retirement from the military.
[Politico] [CNN] [Washington Free Beacon] [Photo courtesy Reuters via South China Morning Post]