When Donald Trump announced his pick for Secretary of Defense, a collective “Ooh-Rah!” was heard around the nation.
The President Elect announced his choice as Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis.
The four-star general has been known for his colorful quotes such as “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
The Marine was previously Commander of United States Central Command but ended up on the wrong side of the Obama administration as Mattis had developed a reputation as being too eager to fight.
Again, a Marine Corps general was not “trusted” by the Commander in Chief because the warfighter did not shy away from military confrontation.
As a result of Obama’s lack of faith in General Mattis, he was essentially forced into retirement in 2013.
Trump’s confidence in Mattis is representative of the shift in thought that is taking place in government with the presidential transition.
Obama preferred to have pacifists as military commanders while Trump prefers to appoint men who have no problem killing enemy combatants.
As a Marine Corps officer, Mattis became one of the most loved generals since General Alfred Gray. Gray was a “mustang,” a Marine who enlisted then became an officer, rising to the highest rank of Commandant.
Gray, a Vietnam veteran, reminded all Marines of their primary role as rifleman, by always wearing his camouflage utility uniform and carrying a canteen cup.
In the “Hall of Commandants” that is adorned with a painted portrait of each Marine Corps Commandant throughout history. There are 36 paintings hanging of Marine Corps Commandants in their ornate dress uniform – then there is one painting of General Gray in his “cammies.”
Mattis, who prefers his call-sign, “Chaos” is a soft-spoken, unimposing man – until you have to fight him.
His aggressiveness in combat earned him the nickname “Mad Dog” and the young Marines who fought under his command credited him with providing both the strategy and motivation to not just win the battle but to beat the enemy until they are as “flat as a cat on a highway.”
Mattis’ determination comes at a price as he is married to combat. “Chaos” has never owned a television and spends his time studying warriors throughout history from the Spartans to the Comanche.
Trump will have one road block in getting confirmation of his Secretary of Defense in that Mattis is legally barred from serving a Secretary of Defense for seven years after his retirement from the military.
Mattis will have to receive a special exemption from Congress to receive the appointment.