What you need to know about retired Marine Corps General James Mattis – nominated for Secretary of Defense


Marine Corps General James Mattis, now retired

The Preamble to the United States Constitution is essentially an introduction that states in general terms, the Founding Fathers’ intentions regarding the Constitution’s meaning and what they hoped the Constitution would achieve.

It’s no mistake that “provide for the common defense” was highlighted in the Preamble, an indication of the importance placed on the defense of the new nation.

It’s not a stretch to consider defense as the single most important task that falls to our federal government. What happens to our other lofty ideals if an enemy defeats the United States? Our way of life would be determined by the victors, and based on history, would be unlikely to include justice, tranquility, and the blessings of liberty.

It is with that concept in mind that we view the defense of the United States as the primary and single most important task assigned to our federal government by our founders.

So, we should be thankful that President-elect Donald Trump has selected an honest-to-goodness warrior to lead our Defense Department.

Many conservatives, especially veterans, have become concerned with the erosion of our military capabilities under the Commander-in-Chief (CIC) who has been in charge for the past eight years. He has presided over an intentional downsizing of U.S. military strength and a systematic weakening of our defenses in all areas.

The Army’s manpower is down 10 percent since he took office. Our naval capabilities are aging and inadequate to meet our national security demands. The Air Force fields the smallest and oldest force of combat aircraft in its history. The Marines are running only about two-thirds the number of battalions they have historically needed to meet day-to-day operational demands.

Most neglected of all U.S. national security elements are our strategic forces. Here, our “fearless leader” has reined in development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses.  The president cut all advanced missile defense programs designed to keep the United States ahead of the ballistic missile threat in the future. The president also delayed and underfunded existing programs, most notably the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system. Meanwhile, to curry favor with Russia, he pulled the plug on planned missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, simultaneously alienating those allies while displaying weakness to Moscow.

It’s obvious that the president wasn’t concerned with defending the U.S. from those who would do us harm. Everything was political with him and his actions just assumed that no other nation would dare attack us.

The problem with that assumption is that the weaker we are, the more apt we are to be viewed as an attractive victim to any enemy nation that might be considering mischief.

That’s precisely why the naming of retired General “Mad Dog Mattis” as Secretary of Defense should induce at least respect and caution, if not fear, in the hearts of our likely adversaries.

According to the L.A. Times, his troops began referring to him as “Mad Dog Mattis” after the battle of Fallujah, intending the name as “high praise.” He is said to dislike the label, but since it was awarded by his troops, he wears it proudly.

James N. Mattis was born in Washington State on September 8, 1950 (he’s now 66), and attended Central Washington University, receiving a commission as a second lieutenant the year after he graduated.

Mattis served more than four decades in the Marine Corps and is “the most revered Marine general in at least a generation. So said the Military Times in a 2013 profile, attributing the deep respect for Mattis to his frank, endlessly quotable speaking style, his battlefield success, the confidence he always expressed in rank-and-file service members, and his insistence upon sharing the hardships of his men.

Mattis retired as a four-star general and head of U.S. Central Command in 2013, after 41 years of service. Since retiring, he has served as a consultant and as a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, a think tank at Stanford University.

Like Trump, Mattis favors a tougher stance against U.S. adversaries abroad, especially Iran. The general, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, said that while security discussions often focus on terrorist groups such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, the Iranian regime is “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”

One U.S. Representative, Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), a retired lieutenant colonel and Army Ranger who served with Gen. Mattis in Iraq and Afghanistan, noted that Trump’s defense team appears to be “far more concerned about the readiness of our country’s defense than about political social agendas,” a refreshing change from the past eight years.

After 9/11, Mattis led “the deepest insertion of Marines into a combat zone in U.S. history” in Afghanistan, followed by “the longest sustained march in Marine Corps history” in Iraq.

Mattis literally wrote the book on modern counterinsurgency operations, along with one of the definitive books on operational command.

He is a scholar of warfare. Mattis at one point accumulated over 7,000 books, before giving many of them away or donating them to libraries. As of 2013, the San Diego Union Tribune reported that he had never owned a television set. The New York Times stated in a 2010 profile that Mattis devoted most of his moving allowance to hauling his books around.

His interest in Native American history and culture, dating back to his youth in Washington, is legendary. “He was once asked which American Indian warrior he most respected. His answer was a tribe-by-tribe, chief-by-chief exposition spanning the first Seminole war to the surrender of the Lakota,” the New York Times recalled.

“Read about history and you become aware that nothing starts with us,” Mattis reflected in a recent interview with Military History. “It started long ago. If you read enough biography and history, you learn how people have dealt successfully or unsuccessfully with similar situations or patterns in the past. It doesn’t give you a template of answers, but it does help you refine the questions you have to ask yourself. Further, you recognize there is nothing so unique that you’ve got to go to extraordinary lengths to deal with it.”

You might be interested in some of Gen. Mattis most quotable statements, some made to his enemies, some said to his staff, and some to Marines in general. Here are a few notable ones:

·          “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.”

·         “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k 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.”

·         “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.”

·         “The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.”

·         “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.”

·         “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.”

·         “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”

·         “You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.”

·         “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.”


One possible stumbling block to his nomination could be that Mattis will need a special waiver to serve as Secretary of Defense. A law dating back to 1947 stipulates a minimum 7-year waiting period between active military duty and serving as Secretary of Defense, a civilian position. Mattis has only been retired for three years. The waiver must come from Congress, which seems generally well-disposed to Mattis. That law was waived once before for George Marshall but it hasn’t been tested since. But even red state democrats will be hard-pressed to vote against a “national hero” like Gen. Mattis. For more details about the possible Senate battle on his waiver, click here.


I don’t know about you, but for me, Gen. Mattis is EXACTLY the kind of warrior we need to keep America safe. Assuming that he gets the waiver and is confirmed, I will sleep better at night knowing he is our SecDef.

Kudos to President-elect Trump for nominating him.


Categories: Political

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10 replies

  1. Terrific and informative post, Garnet!

    The choice of Mattis really helps underscore what a pathetic Commander-in-Chief Obama was.


    • If I could spell “juxtaposition” I’d suggest that Gen. Mattis be compared to the generals that Obama preferred – in terms of actual combat experience and how their troops felt about them. I wish I had the time to do it, but only the diehards among us would really care anyway. Obama only wanted ass-kissing political types, not real warriors.


      • Well, in Obama’s defense his goal was to convert the U.S. military into a $600+ Billion social experiment to feminize and neuter our nation’s most macho population so that he would fit in better, a natural consequence of the fact that he got dissed by his basketball coach back in high school and his parents never got him a minibike. So it’s all perfectly understandable.


      • Whenever Obama’s “manhood” comes up, I recall the image of him riding a girl’s bike wearing a helmet in his “granny” jeans and how he throws like a girl – with apologies to girls who really can throw a baseball. He’s half-assed in just about every way – he’s only half black, I wonder if he’s also only half-man as well? And I don’t mean plumbing, I mean in masculinity. He’s about a country mile short of being macho.

        You may be onto something, he’s been trying to remake our military in his own image (GAG!).


  2. Great piece to help us get to know General Mattis a bit more.

    I flew over the Doghouse the other day…


    • Thanks, tannngl, he’s an interesting guy. A real Marine’s Marine and thus, a man’s man. In this age of “metrosexuals”, it’s comforting to see that there are some real men left standing. It’ll be informative to see how N. Korea, Iran, and Russia react to him after a couple of years as SecDef. I’ll bet that they treat the U.S. with more respect – especially Iran.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great piece, Garnet. Mattis sounds solid and with his background and knowledge he knows what’s best for the US and for our military. With him as SecDef we will probably see a big change in our ME strategy concerning ISIS.

    There’s already one dem senator, Kirsten Gillibrand from NY, who’s stating she won’t approve the waiver because she wants a civilian in that position. “Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy.”

    In other words, that’s the way we’ve always done it. Evidently she hasn’t noticed that things are changing. There will be more just like her and that tells me Mattis is the right choice.


    • Right Kathy, she’s just pissed ’cause Mattis isn’t a black liberal Harvard grad who’s more interested in gays in the military than with keeping the country strong. In other words, he’s not a typical Obama nominee.

      Assuming that he gets confirmed, I suspect that there will be a definite difference in our dealings with Iran and N. Korea.


  4. Amen, Garnet!

    I LOVE me some Mattis!!


    • Me too, Curtis! Isn’t is nice to see someone nominated for a cabinet position that really has the qualifications for the job – instead of Obama’s nominees who were all political animals and weren’t truly qualified. In Obama’s case, the only qualification that counted was total fealty and subservience to King Obama. Tell him the unvarnished truth (as Mattis did) and get fired cause Obama “couldn’t handle the truth.”


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