Ricks: All I Want For Christmas Is A New Secretary Of Defense

The Long March

And so Mattis goes.


It was probably inevitable after his former subordinate John Kelly was said to be leaving his post as White House chief of staff.

President Trump announced on Thursday afternoon the departure of James Mattis as defense secretary. I am sorry to see him go — in one of the most turbulent cabinets in American history, Mattis has been something of a rock.

I think Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria probably was the last straw for him. Not just the unilateral nature of it, antagonizing European allies, but also the fact that it almost certainly was contrary to Mattis’ view of what needed to be done in the Middle East.

The odd thing is that this is the second administration in a row that has ousted Mattis over his views of what needs to be done in the Middle East. The Obama White House thought Mattis too obstinate in asking “what next?” questions about Middle East policy, and also in pushing for tough responses to Iranian moves in the region. The Trump Administration — well, it looks to be doing about the same thing for the same reasons.

It also means that all the generals Trump brought into the administration — Michael Flynn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly, and Mattis — will have left within two years.

So Mattis heads back to the food bank in Richland, Washington, where he worked before being tapped to be defense secretary. I am sure he feels relieved at the prospect, and also that he did the best he could for his country as long as he could.

My real worry is who succeeds Mattis at the Pentagon.

I’ve heard Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas mentioned. I know little about him but I do like that he served in the Army and did deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq in 2006 was pretty rough — I actually was embedded with the 101st Airborne a bit then, but I don’t recall running into Lt. Cotton.

Cotton would be vastly preferable to John Bolton, the national security advisor, and a man I consider to lack judgment.

DoD
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Keion Jackson).

The U.S. military will build 'facilities' to house at least 7,500 adult migrants, the Pentagon announced on Wednesday.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to construct the facilities, said Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Chris Mitchell.

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(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur.)

Defense officials will brief President Donald Trump's national security team on a plan that involves sending 5,000 more troops to the Middle East to deter Iran, Task & Purpose has learned.

So far, no decisions have been made about whether to send the reinforcements to the region, unnamed U.S. officials told CNN's Barbara Starr.

"The military capabilities being discussed include sending additional ballistic missile defense systems, Tomahawk cruise missiles on submarines, and surface ships with land attack capabilities for striking at a long range," CNN reports. "Specific weapons systems and units have not been identified."

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The thousands of sailors, Coasties and Marines who descend on New York City every year for Fleet Week are an awesome sight to behold on their own, but this year's confab of U.S. service members includes a uniquely powerful homecoming as well.

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When an Air Force major called J.J. completed a solo flight in the U-2 in late August 2016 — 60 years after the high-flying aircraft was introduced — he became the 1,000th pilot to do so.

J.J., whose name was withheld by the U.S. Air Force for security reasons, earned his solo patch a few days after pilots No. 998 and No. 999. Those three pilots are in distinguished company, two fellow pilots said this month.

"We have a pretty small, elite team of folks. We're between about 60 and 70 active-duty pilots at any given time," Maj. Matt "Top" Nauman said during an Air Force event at the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in New York City.

"We're about 1,050 [pilots] right now. So to put that in context, there are more people with Super Bowl rings than there are people with U-2 patches," Nauman added. "It's a pretty small group of people that we've hired over the last 60 to 65 years."

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(DoD/Sgt. Amber I. Smith)

In what appear to be his first public remarks on U.S. national security since his resignation as Secretary of Defense, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis offered a word of caution to President Donald Trump amid escalating tensions with Iran on Tuesday.

"The United States should buy time to keep peace and stability and allow diplomats to work diplomacy on how to keep peace for one more hour, one more day, one more week, a month or a year," Mattis said during remarks in the United Arab Emirates.

"Iran's behavior must change," Mattis added, "[but] the military must work to buy time for diplomats to work their magic."

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