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Mattis wags his knife hand at toxic leadership in Washington with a veiled jab at Trump
Buried in former Defense Secretary James Mattis' essay in the Wall Street Journal is a leadership lesson that sounds an awful lot like a veiled criticism of President Donald Trump's tendency to bully subordinates in person and on social media.
While the retired Marine general does not dwell on his decision to resign last December in protest over Trump's decision to withdraw all U.S. troops in Syria, which the commander-in-chief later reversed. Instead, Mattis opted to reiterate what he wrote in his resignation letter about the importance of treating allies with respect.
"Using every skill I had learned during my decades as a Marine, I did as well as I could for as long as I could," Mattis wrote in Wednesday's op-ed. "When my concrete solutions and strategic advice, especially keeping faith with our allies, no longer resonated, it was time to resign, despite the limitless joy I felt serving alongside our troops in defense of our Constitution."
Ever the professional warrior, Mattis does not criticize Trump directly. He did, however, recall a former NATO assignment when he worked with a European admiral who would yell in front of his officers in the presence of others and ridiculed reports he felt were subpar. His staff, Mattis writes, feared rather than respected him:
"I called in the admiral and carefully explained why I disapproved of his leadership," Mattis wrote. "'Your staff resents you,' I said. 'You're disappointed in their input. OK. But your criticism makes that input worse, not better. You're going the wrong way. You cannot allow your passion for excellence to destroy your compassion for them as human beings.' This was a point I had always driven home to my subordinates.
"'Change your leadership style,' I continued. 'Coach and encourage; don't berate, least of all in public.'
"But he soon reverted to demeaning his subordinates. I shouldn't have been surprised. When for decades you have been rewarded and promoted, it's difficult to break the habits you've acquired, regardless of how they may have worked in another setting. Finally, I told him to go home."
Mattis does not draw a direct parallel between the admiral and Trump, but it's hard not to see the similarities: he and the commander-in-chief had a fraught relationship for the last year of Mattis' tenure.
In August 2018, Trump contradicted Mattis on whether joint military exercises in South Korea could resume amid tensions with North Korea, tweeting, "There is no reason at this time to be spending large amounts of money on joint U.S.-South Korea war games."
And that December, after media reports focused on the not-so-veiled criticism of the commander-in-chief in Mattis' resignation letter about the need to treat U.S. allies better, an enraged Trump falsely claimed that he had fired Mattis, telling the New York Times in February: "I wasn't happy with Mattis. I told Mattis to give me a letter. He didn't just give me that letter. I told him."
Trump has demonstrated all the traits of toxic leadership that Mattis ascribed to the unnamed admiral in his op-ed. This time, though, Mattis knew he was the one who had to go home.
Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
When Oscar Jesus Temores showed up to work at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story each day, his colleagues in base security knew they were in for a treat.
Temores was a master-at-arms who loved his job and cracking corny jokes.
"He just he just had that personality that you can go up to him and talk to him about anything. It was goofy and weird, and he always had jokes," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Derek Lopez, a fellow base patrolman. "Sometimes he'd make you cry from laughter and other times you'd just want to cringe because of how dumb his joke was. But that's what made him more approachable and easy to be around."
That ability to make others laugh and put people at ease is just one of the ways Temores is remembered by his colleagues. It has been seven weeks since the 23-year-old married father of one was killed when a civilian intruder crashed his pickup truck into Temores' vehicle at Fort Story.