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Mattis' 2017 Message To Troops Is Worth Remembering: 'Just Hold The Line'
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has resigned from his post — leaving many to freak out about what's to come in the defense world — but a message he personally delivered last year to troops under his command is worth heeding before he departs in February.
"You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other, being friendly to one another; what Americans owe to one another," Mattis said in 2017.
Mattis' resignation comes on a the heels of a disagreement with President Donald Trump over the latter's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria — the consequences of which are unclear, though there's speculation that ISIS may not be as "defeated" as the Trump administration claims, and that the U.S. military's departure from the country will leave our local allies vulnerable and create further instability, out of which some new fresh hell will emerge.
On top of that, Trump is reportedly considering withdrawing half of the U.S. service members currently deployed to Afghanistan. Approximately 7,000 troops are deployed there to support the Afghan government in America's aging war against the Taliban.
Considering all the uncertainty hanging over the Department of Defense amid sudden and potentially tumultuous changes, now seems like the right time to resurface a speech Mattis gave to troops deployed downrange just last year.
During a 2017 visit to Afghanistan, Mattis spoke to deployed troops and defense contractors with his usual glibness, remarking that “you guys ambushed me,” before launching into a folksy moto speech chock-full of Mattisms.
“For those of you I haven’t met, my name’s Mattis, I work in the Department of Defense, obviously,” he quips, before striking a more serious tone. “Thanks for being out here, okay. I know at times you wonder if anybody knows.”
“You get promoted after a while and you’re so remote and you get out of touch with those of you who matter, but believe me I know you’re far from home, every one of you,” Mattis continued. "I know you could be going to college, you young people, or you could be back on the block. I’m just grateful. The only way this great big experiment that you and I call America is going to survive is if we’ve got tough hombres like you.”
Mattis’ popularity among American service members — and his nearly cult-like following among Marines — has less to do with his distinguished four decades of service, and more to do with his frank way of addressing, and showing appreciation for junior troops.
“Some of you are too young, but on 9/11, we backed up against an enemy who thought if he could hurt us, he could scare us,” Mattis continues in the video. “But we don’t friggin' scare. That’s the bottom line.”
This speech, like many other anecdotes and stories about Chaos — never Mad Dog — keeps the focus on the rank and file, the NCOs, the guys out on post standing balls watch, you know, the ones who are rarely in the spotlight:
“You’re a great example for our country right now," Mattis adds. "It’s got some problems. You know it and I know it. It’s got problems that we don’t have in the military. You just hold the line my fine young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. You just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other, being friendly to one another; what Americans owe to one another.”
Though Mattis wraps up the speech with a joke that he “flunked retirement” once already, he’s headed back for a second try. In his absence, his words to those servicemen and women still out in harm's way merit repeating, and remembering: “Hold the line” and “take care of each other.”
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.