Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
James Mattis' Final Message To US Troops Holds Advice For Life After His Resignation
Secretary of Defense James Mattis abruptly resigned following President Donald Trump’s sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, but that didn't stop the Department of Defense from releasing his holiday message to U.S. service members.
The Pentagon's Defense Visual Information Distribution Service (DVIDS) on Dec. 21 published Mattis' brief holiday video message to the Department of Defense personnel — and it contains some kernels of advice for dealing with life after his resignation.
"Since Washington crossed Delaware at Christmas in 1776, American troops have missed holidays at home to defend our experiment in democracy," Mattis said. "To all you lads and lasses holding the line in 2018, on land, at sea, or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith. Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe."
That message, recorded on Dec. 19 — the day before he tendered his resignation — shows no clear indication of the turbulent few days ahead for Mattis. But it's his longer holiday message to U.S. service members, surfaced by The War Zone on Christmas Eve, contains some more inspirational morsels:
R 192339Z DEC 18
FM SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEKJCS/SECDEF COMMUNICATIONS WASHINGTON DC
SUBJ/HOLIDAY MESSAGE 2018
ADDRESSEES PASS TO ALL SUBORDINATE COMMANDS
1. WE IN THE U.S. MILITARY ARE PRIVILEGED TO DEFEND AMERICA, ESPECIALLY AT THIS TIME OF YEAR, FOR WE ENSURE OUR FELLOW AMERICANS CELEBRATE THIS SEASON OF HOPE IN PEACE AND SAFETY.
2. WE KNOW OUR FREEDOMS ARE NOT GUARANTEED BY THEMSELVES; THEY NEED DEFENDERS.
3. THIS MONTH, MANY IN OUR MILITARY WILL BE SERVING FAR FROM THEIR LOVED ONES. IT IS DIFFICULT WORK, BUT THIS IS NOTHING NEW: SINCE WASHINGTON CROSSED THE DELAWARE ON CHRISTMAS DAY IN 1776, AMERICAN TROOPS HAVE MISSED HOLIDAYS TO DEFEND OUR CITIZENS’ EXPERIMENT IN DEMOCRACY.
4. TO THOSE IN THE FIELD OR AT SEA, “KEEPING WATCH BY NIGHT” THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, YOU SHOULD RECOGNIZE THAT YOU CARRY ON THE PROUD LEGACY OF THOSE WHO STOOD THE WATCH IN DECADES PAST. IN THIS WORLD AWASH IN CHANGE, YOU HOLD THE LINE.
5. STORM CLOUDS LOOM, YET BECAUSE OF YOU YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS LIVE SAFE AT HOME. MOST DON’T KNOW YOUR NAMES BUT ALL ARE CONFIDENT THEIR FREEDOMS AND THEIR FAMILIES WILL BE KEPT SAFE.
6. FAR FROM HOME, YOU HAVE EARNED THE GRATITUDE AND RESPECT OF YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS AND IT REMAINS MY GREAT PRIVILEGE TO SERVE ALONGSIDE YOU.
7. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND MAY GOD HOLD YOU SAFE.
RELEASED BY: CAPT HALLOCK MOHLER JR., DOD EXECUTIVE SECRETARY
This part, in particular, stands out: "To those in the field or at sea, 'keeping watch by night' this holiday season, you should recognize that you carry on the proud legacy of those who stood the watch in decades past. In this world awash in change, you hold the line. Storm clouds loom, yet because of you, your fellow citizens live safe at home."
Sound advice from the so-called "Warrior Monk," we think. We wonder if it was penned with his imminent departure in mind.
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who led a Marine task force to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, said the Washington Post's recent reporting about the U.S. government's pattern of lies about the war over the last two decades is not "revelatory."
Mattis, who was interviewed by the Washington Post's David Ignatius on Friday, also said he does not believe the U.S. government made any efforts to hide the true situation in Afghanistan and he argued the war has not been in vain.
Here are 10 key quotes from Mattis regarding the Washington Post's reporting in the 'Afghanistan Papers.'
The Navy relieved a decorated explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) officer on Thursday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command, the Navy announced on Friday.
The Taliban may not have breached the walls of Bagram, but they damaged the hell out of its main passenger terminal
Blasts from Taliban car bombs outside of Bagram Airfield on Wednesday caused extensive damage to the base's passenger terminal, new pictures released by the 45th Expeditionary Wing show.
The pictures, which are part of a photo essay called "Bagram stands fast," were posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service's website on Thursday.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Shortly after seven sailors died aboard USS Fitzgerald when she collided with a merchant ship off Japan in 2017, I wrote that the Fitzgerald's watch team could have been mine. My ship had once had a close call with me on watch, and I had attempted to explain how such a thing could happen. "Operating ships at sea is hard, and dangerous. Stand enough watches, and you'll have close calls," I wrote at the time. "When the Fitzgerald's investigation comes out, I, for one, will likely be forgiving."
So, am I forgiving? Yes — for some.
Editor's note: a version of this story first appeared in 2015.
Most people haven't heard of an elderly Belgian-Congolese nurse named Augusta Chiwy. But students of history know that adversity and dread can turn on a dime into freedom and change, and it's often the most humble and little-known individuals who are the drivers of it.
During the very darkest days of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, Chiwy was such a catalyst, and hundreds of Americans lived because of her. She died quietly on Aug. 23, 2015, at the age of 94 at her home in Brussels, Belgium, and had it not been for the efforts of my friend — British military historian Martin King — the world may never have heard her astonishing story.