Today’s scouting report on America’s Dream Team James Mattis, Secretary of Defense

Service/branch United States Marine Corps

Years of service 1969–2013
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands
U.S. Central Command
U.S. Joint Forces Command
Supreme Allied Commander Transformation
I Marine Expeditionary Force
U.S. Marine Forces Central Command
Marine Corps Combat Development Command
1st Marine Division
7th Marine Regiment
1st Battalion, 7th Marines
Battles/wars
Persian Gulf War
Invasion of Afghanistan
Iraq War
• Invasion of Iraq
• First Battle of Fallujah
• Second Battle of Fallujah
Awards
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star (with Valor)
Meritorious Service Medal

He initially enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1969. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Central Washington University and was commissioned a second lieutenant through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps on January 1, 1972. During his service years, Mattis was considered to be an intellectual among the upper ranks, with a personal library that once contained thousands of books. Robert H. Scales, a retired United States Army major general, described him as “… one of the most urbane and polished men I have known.” Reinforcing this intellectual persona was the fact he carried his own personal copy of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius throughout his deployments.

While serving in Afghanistan as a brigadier general, he was known as an officer who engaged his men with “real leadership”. A young Marine officer named Nathaniel Fick cited an example of that leadership when he witnessed Mattis in a fighting hole talking with a sergeant and lance corporal: “No one would have questioned Mattis if he’d slept eight hours each night in a private room, to be woken each morning by an aide who ironed his uniforms and heated his MREs. But there he was, in the middle of a freezing nioght, out on the lines with his Marines.

As his division prepared to ship out to the Middle East Mattis called in experts on the region for cultural sensitivity training. He constantly toured the battlefield to tell stories of Marines who were able to show discretion in moments of high pressure. As an apparent example, he encouraged his Marines to grow mustaches to look more like the people they were working with.

After being promoted to lieutenant general, Mattis took command of Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Speaking ad libitum at a forum in San Diego, he said “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you, I like brawling.” Mattis’s remarks sparked controversy; General Michael Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, issued a statement suggesting Mattis should have chosen his words more carefully, but would not be disciplined.

As head of Central Command, Mattis oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and was responsible for a region that includes Syria, Iran, and Yemen. The Obama administration did not place much trust in Mattis, because he was perceived to be too eager for a military confrontation with Iran.

He retired from the Marine Corps on May 22, 2013.

Mattis believes that Iran is the principal threat to the stability of the Middle East, ahead of Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Mattis says: “I consider ISIS nothing more than an excuse for Iran to continue its mischief. Iran is not an enemy of ISIS. They have a lot to gain from the turmoil in the region that ISIS creates.”

On the Iran nuclear deal, although he sees it as a poor agreement, he believes there is now no way to tear it up, saying: “We are just going to have to recognize that we have an imperfect arms control agreement. Second, that what we achieved is a nuclear pause, not a nuclear halt”. Mattis argues that the nuclear inspections may fail to prevent Iran from seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but that “if nothing else at least we will have better targeting data if it comes to a fight in the future.” Additionally, he criticizes President Barack Obama for being naive about Iranian intentions and Congress for being “pretty much absent” on last year’s nuclear deal. Mattis’ views on Iran were speculated to have been the reason he was fired by President Obama.

Mattis praises the friendship of regional US allies such as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. He has criticized Barack Obama for their view of seeing allies as ‘free-loading’, saying: “For a sitting U.S. president to see our allies as freeloaders is nuts.”He has cited the importance of the United Arab Emirates and Jordan as countries that wanted to help, for example, in filling in the gaps in Afghanistan. He has criticized current defense strategy as giving “the perception we’re pulling back” from US allies. He stresses the need for the US to bolster its ties with allied intelligence agencies, particularly the intelligence agencies of Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

In 2012, Mattis argued for providing weapons to Syrian rebels, as a way to fight back against Iranian proxies in Syria.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by The Heritage Foundation in Washington in 2015 Mattis stated that he believed that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intent is “to break NATO apart.” Mattis has also spoken out against Russia’s expansionist or bellicose policies in Syria, Ukraine and the Baltic states.

Mattis is a graduate of the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College. Mattis is also noted for his intellectualism and interest in the study of military history and world history, with a personal library that once included over 7,000 volumes, and a penchant for publishing required reading lists for Marines under his command.

Mattis is a lifelong bachelor, who has never been married and has no children. He is nicknamed “The Warrior Monk” because of his bachelor life and lifelong devotion to the study of war. He is known for the intellectual rigor he instills in his Marines, risk-management, and requiring his Marines to be well read regarding the culture and history in regions of the world where they are deployed.

 

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One Response to “Today’s scouting report on America’s Dream Team James Mattis, Secretary of Defense”

  1. hocuspocus13 Says:

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