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.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.