US President-elect Donald Trump has nominated James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a retired 4-star Marine Corps General known for his tough talk and battlefield experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, as his Defence Secretary.
“In order to succeed in our defense policy, we must have the right person to lead in our Defense Department,” Trump said about 66-year-old Mattis.
“This is why I am proud to formally announce today my intention to nominate General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as the next Secretary of Defense for the United States of America,” Trump said, adding that he was one of the “most effective generals and extraordinary leaders of our time, who has committed his life to his love for our country,” Trump said in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
“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,” Trump said.
“Thank you President-elect for the confidence that you’ve shown in me … I look forward to being the civilian leader so long as the Congress gives me the waiver and the Senate votes to content,” Mattis said after Trump heaped praise on him.
If confirmed, Mattis would replace Ashton Carter who is scheduled to be in India this week on his farewell trip.
Mattis commanded at multiple levels during his 44- year career as an infantry Marine.
Before retiring in 2013, he was the Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM), directing military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines across the Middle East.
“I am honored by President-elect Trump’s nomination and his respect for the brave men and women of the Armed Forces of the US,” Mattis said.
“To the President-elect, our soon to be commander in chief, to our military personnel, to the talented civilians in the Department of Defence, and to the American people, I pledge the best of my abilities to ensuring a strong and secure America,” he said.
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 Defence Executive Secretary. As a brigadier general, he was the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defence.
The retired four-star general, who was known as “Mad Dog,” was lauded for his leadership of Marines in the 2004 Battle of Falluja in Iraq – one of the bloodiest of the war.
But he also attracted controversy in 2005 when he said “it’s fun to shoot some people” while addressing service members in San Diego.