President-elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to serve as his secretary of defense, according to the Washington Post. An official announcement is likely by early next week.
Congress will need to enact legislation to allow his formal nomination. Title 10 of the U.S. Code says the secretary of defense needs to be “appointed from civilian life by the president. A person may not be appointed as Secretary of Defense within seven years after relief from active duty as a commissioned officer of a regular component of an armed force.”
There is a precedent for such action, however. Army Gen. George Marshall, appointed in 1950, served as Secretary of Defense five years after leaving the Army to be secretary of State. The National Security Act of 1947 barred any person from the post of secretary of Defense who had served as an officer in the armed forces during the past 10 years. His confirmation was ultimately secured through the passage of the George C. Marshall Exemption Act.
Mattis who retired in 2013, served in the military for 44 years. From 2010 until his retirement, he served as the head of U.S. Central Command, managing conflicts across the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia until his retirement. Since he left the Marine Corps, he has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s positions on Iraq, Iran, lack of offensive military action in a number of global conflicts.
After an initial meeting with Mattis on Nov. 19, Trump proclaimed him to be “the real deal.”
Shortly after The Washington Post reported this, Trump communications director Jason Miller tweeted that no official decision has been made yet.
No decision has been made yet with regard to Secretary of Defense. #TrumpTransition
— Jason Miller (@JasonMillerinDC) December 1, 2016
At his Thank You rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, however, Trump confirmed the nomination.
“We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it until Monday so don’t tell anybody,” Trump joked at his rally, adding, “they say he’s the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have, and it’s about time.”