President-elect Donald Trump last night announced his intent to nominate General James Mattis (USMC, Ret.) to serve as the U.S. Secretary of Defense. Among the most decorated and legendary leaders in our country, Mattis has spent his life defending America in numerous theaters of war.
Mattis commanded at multiple levels during his 44 year career as an infantry Marine. Before retiring in 2013, he was the Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), directing military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines across the Middle East. Gen. Mattis has been at the forefront of the development of our nation’s counterinsurgency tactics, and has earned accolades for his ferocity, intellect and dedication, making him one of the foremost defense experts in the world.
“I am proud to nominate General James Mattis to Secretary of Defense,” Trump said in a released statement. “He is one of the most effective generals and extraordinary leaders of our time, who has committed his life to his love for our country. General Mattis is the living embodiment of the Marine Corps motto, ‘Semper Fidelis,’ always faithful, and the American people are fortunate that a man of his character and integrity will now be the civilian leader atop the Department of Defense. Under his leadership, we will rebuild our military and alliances, destroy terrorists and face our enemies head on, and make America safe again.”
“I am honored by President-elect Trump’s nomination and his respect for the brave men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States,” Mattis responded. “To the President-elect, our soon to be commander in chief, to our military personnel, to the talented civilians in the Department of Defense, and to the American people, I pledge the best of my abilities to ensuring a strong and secure America.”
Mattis is a native of Pullman, Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Central Washington University and was commissioned a second lieutenant through ROTC in 1972.
As a lieutenant colonel, Mattis commanded an assault battalion breaching the Iraqi minefields in Operation Desert Storm. As a colonel, he commanded the 7th Marine Regiment and, on Pentagon duty, he served as the Department of Defense Executive Secretary. As a brigadier general he was the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Mattis, led the Special Operation Forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the First Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq. As a general, he served concurrently as the Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation.
Mattis led the First Marine Division from Kuwait to Baghdad in a matter of weeks in 2003, annihilating Saddam Hussein’s defenses and reaching Baghdad faster and with fewer losses than anyone could have expected.
In November 2007, Mattis was promoted to General. He became Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2010 and directed operations across the Middle East before retiring in 2013. Working closely with General David Petraeus, Mattis produced the revolutionary Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual, the definitive work on how the U.S. military should deal with Iraqi insurgents. He is co-editor of the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.