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“I love Mattis, but I don’t love him as SecDef,” writes Erin Simpson, senior editor of the foreign policy publication War on the Rocks. “You can’t run the Pentagon like the First Marine Division.”
On Dec. 1, President-elect Donald Trump nominated the legendary Marine Corps general, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, to head up the Department of Defense.
Mattis faces one obstacle already in that he would need Congress to pass a bill exempting him from the requisite seven-year, cooling-off period between active military service and assuming the role of Defense secretary. But it’s not only a question of whether he can, but if he should.
“The point is not that Mattis is unqualified. Rather, the point is that he hates this shit,” Simpson writes. “Budgets, white papers, and service rivalries, not to mention the interagency meetings and White House meddling — these tasks are not what you go to Jim Mattis for. Not only does the role of secretary of defense not play to Mattis’ strengths, but success in that role would compromise much that we admire most in him: his bluntness, clarity, and single-minded focus on warfighting.”
She’s not the only one who feels this way.
Army veteran Phillip Carter and former Pentagon and National Security Council official Loren DeJonge Schulman, who both work at the Center for a New American Security, have concerns about Mattis filling this role, too, but for different reasons.
“But we should be wary about an overreliance on military figures. Great generals don’t always make great Cabinet officials. And if appointed in significant numbers, they could undermine another strong American tradition: civilian control of an apolitical military,” the pair writes in The Washington Post.
The greater problem with Trump’s apparent quest to surround himself with military leaders is that “relying on the brass, however individually talented, to run so much of the government could also jeopardize civil-military relations,” according to Carter and Schulman.
While a heavy concentration of military leadership in the cabinet poses a dilemma for the civilian government, it shouldn’t be viewed simply as a matter of quantity. It’s the qualities of the veterans who fill those posts that we should be most concerned with. In the selection process, Trump would do well to consider that some veterans can parlay their military careers into successful political ones, while others cannot.
Mattis, whose reputation precedes him, built his career on candor, clarity, and pure dedication to his missions and his Marines. That is his legacy. But it’s worth wondering if he will sacrifice the legacy that made him a legend to do the job of secretary of Defense the compliant, boring, political way that it needs to get done.
(Update: This article has been updated to reflect that Mattis has been nominated to serve as secretary of defense. Dec. 1, 2016; 4:50 PM)
One person was injured by Sunday's rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Task & Purpose was learned. The injury was described as mild and no one was medically evacuated from the embassy following the attack.
What it was like to liberate the Nazi death camp of Dachau, according to an Army veteran who was there
At age 23 in the spring of 1945, Guy Prestia was in the Army fighting his way across southern Germany when his unit walked into hell on earth — the Nazi death camp at Dachau.
"It was terrible. I never saw anything like those camps," said Prestia, 97, who still lives in his hometown of Ellwood City.
Against a blistering 56 mph wind, an F/A-18F Super Hornet laden with fuel roared off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford and into the brilliant January sky.
Chalk up another step forward for America's newest and most expensive warship.
The Ford has been at sea since Jan. 16, accompanied by Navy test pilots flying a variety of aircraft. They're taking off and landing on the ship's 5 acre flight deck, taking notes and gathering data that will prove valuable for generations of pilots to come.
The Navy calls it aircraft compatibility testing, and the process marks an important new chapter for a first-in-class ship that has seen its share of challenges.
"We're establishing the launch and recovery capabilities for the history of this class, which is pretty amazing," said Capt. J.J. "Yank" Cummings, the Ford's commanding officer. "The crew is extremely proud, and they recognize the historic context of this."
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.