“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet” – General James Mattis
President Trump has announced his pick for Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis. This is a critical role among the Trump administration considering the United States is engaged in combat in multiple countries around the world, and have had cooling relations with Russia over the last few years. Can you name the Secretaries of Defense that President Obama has had? Probably not all of them, but it’s likely that you’ll remember Mad Dog Mattis’ name for years to come.
1. He’s a Marine Corps Legend
General Mattis, 66, has served for more than four decades in the Marine Corps. He’s a legend among service members of all branches and is known for delighting in being politically incorrect. In other words, he’ll fit right in to a Trump administration. He has led some of the most high profile military operations in the last two decades, including operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan and Fallujah, Iraq.
2. He’s a Meme King
You may just recently be seeing memes of General Mattis on social media, but he’s been a favorite of meme makers for some time.
3. He was Chief of US Central Command from 2010 to 2013
His predecessor at US Central Command was US Army General David Petraeus, known as the Rockstar General, also a legend among Military service members and on the shortlist for Secretary of State under a Trump administration. US Central Command leads military operations across the Middle East and Southwest Asia. He retired from this post five months premature, prompting speculation that he was forced to retire after speaking out against Obama’s Iran deal. This is something the Obama administration has denied, General Mattis declined to comment.
4. He’s never been married but fathered a generation of warriors
General Mattis has never been married and never had children, but the Marines he’s led view him as a father. He also never owned a television set and is an avid reader. There’s been reports that General Mattis deploys with thousands of his own books and spends every free minute reading.
5. He doesn’t believe torture works
He has openly stated, including to President Elect Trump, that torture doesn’t work and that whatever information he needs from someone he can get with some time, cigarettes, and beer. He’s also an advocate limiting civilian casualties to the point of refusing to strike combatants if he thinks there will be a civilian casualty. He believes that civilian casualties increases the likelihood of more individuals becoming combatants.
6. He will need an exemption from Congress to serve as Secretary of Defense
There’s a law stating that the Secretary of Defense must not have been on active duty within the previous seven years. Congress must grant an exemption in order for General Mattis to serve in this role. This exemption has been granted just once, when General George Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.
7. He has been critical of Obama
In 2015, General Mattis told Congress that the Obama administration’s policy of disengagement in the Middle East has contributed to the rise of extremism in the region and that we need to “come out from our reactive crouch and take a firm, strategic stance in defense of our values.” He recently told TIME magazine that the Obama administration’s war on ISIS has been “unguided by a sustained policy or sound strategy and is replete with half measures.”
8. He’s tough on Russia
Trump has been openly supportive of Putin while Mattis has been critical. Mad Dog Mattis has criticized Putin’s pushing of pro-Russian rebels’ invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s actions in Syria, and has accused Russian of trying to “break NATO apart.” He’s said that the US must respond to Russia’s aggressiveness.
9. Just by asking General James Mattis to be Secretary of Defense, Trump has already Made America Great Again.