Tag Archives: Mattis

Mattis and the Media

When I post something about this legend, no extra words are needed, he speaks for himself!

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has spent more than 40 years in the study and practice of war, but his extensive thoughts and writings on the subject have often been selectively reduced to chesty one-liners.

There’s the admonition to the troops: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

Other examples of bumper sticker bravado could be cited that tend to drown out the context and Mattis’ consistent underlying message in a career as Marine legend and four-star general — that being prepared for war is the best way to prevent it.

Mattis in the past week has been attempting to provide more context in three informal sessions with Pentagon reporters that he acknowledges undertaking at the suggestion of The Associated Press’ senior defense correspondent, Bob Burns.

It’s just him in the middle of a reporters’ huddle. His aides stand aside but within earshot. He is unfailingly polite and direct in his responses to any topic that comes up, with the exception of those that he feels would give a clue to future operations.

Only once has he snapped at a question. Mattis took a question on civilian casualties in Yemen as suggesting that the U.S. didn’t care about the casualties. “Don’t screw with me,” he said.

At the session with reporters last Friday, Mattis took questions on Pakistan, Syria, Korea, Iran, Russia, transgender recruits and the budget and, in the process, made a statement that could be added to his lexicon of one-liners.

“What counts most in war is [the] most difficult to count,” he said in expanding on his thoughts about civil war in Syria in response to a question about whether progress could be gauged by the number of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters killed.

Another reporter interjected that Mattis had recently said in Tel Aviv, “I’ve got better things to do than counting while the fight’s still going on.”

Mattis went on to say: “Yes, we’re not going to get into that sort of thing. You’ll know probably the most challenging part in assessing in combat — to include specifically your question — is that what counts most in war is most difficult to count, to quantify, OK?”

The most difficult thing to quantify is the enemy’s morale, Mattis said, but there are “lagging indicators” that would show that constant pressure is having an effect.

“Morale, eventually, you’ll see a lagging indicator,” he said. “You’ll see that not as many people want to be recruited into a force that’s getting annihilated — witness Syria.

“You won’t see as many foreigners coming to join witness this. So you can kind of look at what’s happened in Syria and say, ‘Wait a minute. They’re not putting out squads to go blow off bombs in Brussels anymore.’ They can’t. You know, this sort of thing,” Mattis said.

The problem is that “not always can you quantify where you’re at, at any one moment,” he said, but in the case of ISIS “we’ll fight them” until the threat is eliminated.

Mattis also spoke on tyranny and revolution in commenting on the recent street protests in Iran against the Islamic regime.

“You know, it’s interesting. You know, I enjoy reading history, just because I learn a lot from it. And, if you watch, when people confront tyranny — and this goes back 1,000-2,000 years — people, eventually, they get fed up with it,” he said.

“And whether it be physical tyranny or mental tyranny or spiritual tyranny, they revolt against it,” Mattis said.

“So we may come from different directions,” he said of Iranian and American judgments on the regime in Tehran, “but ultimately, it’s the same kind of tyranny.

“In their case, it’s about their internal government, what it does to them. In our case, it’s that, plus it’s what that government has done to espouse or support terrorism, destabilizing activities, export of ballistic missiles, disruption of commerce. All these kinds of things,” he said.

Mattis declined to speculate on what may come next, and what the U.S. response would be.

“There’s a reason I have four-stars out in the field,” he said of the combatant commanders.

— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

Mattis The Statesman


Quite a long read, but worth the time if you really want to know the General Jim Mattis who continues to serve our country. He, more so than all the so-called SME’s in and around D.C., understand the people in this part of the world, and the leaders in that part of the world know him and respect him. It’s great read. I loved the part about who was or was not on the plane with him, Who would have thought he’d become the statesman he has?










By VINCE BZDEK | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 10, 2017

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT — With the State Department in upheaval, and the president focused on “America First” domestic concerns, what diplomacy and foreign policy the White House is successfully exercising have fallen more and more to one man, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis.

During a just concluded tour of Pakistan, Egypt, Kuwait, and Jordan, the Defense secretary sounded much more like the country’s chief diplomat than its top soldier.

When talking to reporters during his trip, he stressed that U.S. foreign policy is not “myopically military only.” He repeatedly used phrases like “rebuilding trust,” “de-escalating tensions,” “continued dialogue,” “objectives of reconciliation,” “mediating the rift,” “deepening cooperation on shared interests.”

He brought a message of stability and commitment to Mideast leaders, working hard to affirm U.S. bona fides as “a reliable security partner.” In the world according to Mattis, the U.S. military carries on its shoulders “the hopes of mankind,” and is a force for “strength and unity” in a time of great divisiveness in the country and the world.

It’s the language of a fence mender rather than a bomb thrower. In taking on the diplomat mantel, Mattis also is showing why he is perhaps this White House’s most effective, respected advocate and, when it comes to foreign relations, the superego to President Trump’s id.

In Egypt, his first stop, “He’s seen as nonpolitical, as a professional,” said Sam Werberg, press attaché to the U.S. embassy in Cairo, who then saluted to demonstrate how Egyptians express their respect for Mattis. Since the military essentially runs Egypt, they are most comfortable with the military in the United States taking the lead in managing its relations, Werberg observed. As a result, Mattis provides a platform for dialogue that may be more potent at the moment than the State Department, which is in a state of flux following dozens of key departures and the president’s orders to cut 2,000 employees. Forty-five countries do not have U.S. ambassadors appointed yet, including Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Mattis’ 44 years of experience as a Marine, including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and leading U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, have left him a host of deep relationships to draw on in his role as Defense secretary. Because of those ties, ironically, the man charged with conducting war is seen in this region as the center of calm in a chaotic administration. In each of his stops, the red carpet was literally rolled out for him at the airport.

When asked on the plane ride over to Cairo if he’s doing more diplomacy now than he had as a Marine in the past, he answered: “No, I’ve been doing it for a long time. I’ve known a lot of these guys we’re meeting with a long time. Back when they were crown princes, I fought with some of them.”

Mattis was asked how much it helps, having those long relationships in place in Jordan, Pakistan and other Mideast countries.

“It’s the only thing that works. Makes all the difference in the world,” he replied.

Because of those longstanding friendships, Mattis prefers a lower key, smaller footprint when he comes into a country, said Capt. Jeff Davis, Mattis’ spokesman. Pointing with two fingers back and forth between my eyes and his, Davis says, “He prefers face to face. Likes to break off and go one on one with the officials he meets.”

He’s not one for large ceremonies, photo ops with the troops or joint press conferences, of which he had none during the trip. A U.S. official who was in the room with Mattis during talks with the leaders of Pakistan, Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt, says after the big delegation meetings, he likes to pull key players off to the side one at a time, then “roll up his sleeves and get down to specifics, that is his style, moving quickly past abstractions and generalities.” Aides close to him say, more than anything, he “prioritizes trust.”

Even his discussions with Pakistan, which Mattis has criticized harshly in the past and whose relationship with the United States has been like an on-again, off-again bad marriage, were more about diplomacy than defense, shared values and wounds than past differences. The official who was present at the talks said Mattis called on Pakistan to play a leading role in bringing the Taliban to the table in Afghanistan, so that a peace there came be hammered out politically, rather than militarily.

Contrast Mattis’ language with the language of his boss, who retweeted anti-Muslim videos that caused a furor right before Mattis began his tour of four Muslim-majority nations. From the president’s twitter feed: “VIDEO: Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches. VIDEO: Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death! VIDEO: Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” And later: “@Theresa_May, don’t focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine!” And on North Korea: “The Chinese Envoy, who just returned from North Korea, seems to have had no impact on Little Rocket Man.”

Trump also dropped a bombshell during Mattis’ trip that agitated the very leaders Mattis was meeting with and turned his trip into something of a reassurance tour. Trump announced that he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move Palestinians say will kill the U.S.-brokered peace process. The same day Mattis met with the Jordanian leader, King Abdullah, Abdullah begun consultations to convene an emergency meeting of the Arab League in response to concerns about unrest throughout the region. The Associated Press reported that Mattis had voiced concern to Trump before the announcement about endangering U.S. diplomats and troops in Muslim countries, according to officials briefed on internal administration deliberations.

But a political observer in Cairo assured me that Jordanians and Egyptians trust Mattis implicitly despite the distracting storylines in D.C. One of the advisers traveling with Mattis said the anti-Muslim tweets didn’t even come up in talks with leaders in Egypt and Jordan. Werner said most Egyptian politicians are savvy enough to know that Trump is playing to his base in America with such comments, and they have no real bearing on relations with them.

Trump may see political gains out of demonizing Muslims occasionally, but clearly his Defense secretary believes wholeheartedly the United States cannot afford to alienate Muslim allies. He’s an internationalist in a nationalist administration.

“History is clear,” he said to the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing. “Nations with strong allies thrive, and those without them wither.”

And it doesn’t appear whatsoever that Trump minds the contrast. Mattis seems to be one of the only people in the administration who can disagree with the boss and get away with it. He even did so during his job interview, when he successfully argued Trump out of re-embracing torture as an acceptable method of interrogation.

He has also disagreed with Trump over the vital role NATO still plays (and won) and on the necessity of not pulling troops out of Afghanistan (and won.)

The feather-smoother is not a role you’d expect to come naturally to Mattis given his “Mad Dog” reputation for blunt talk and aggressive military action.

Enlisting in the Marines at age 19, he has fought in the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq, where his radio call signal was “chaos.” He played a key role in the bloody battle of Fallujah. The four-star general is a popular leader known for getting in the trenches with his men. The Marine Corps Times called him “the most revered Marine in a generation.”

And he’s a lover of kick-their-ass slogans such as “be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet,” and “War makes good men better and bad men worse.”

During his single appearance on “Face the Nation,” John Dickerson asked him what keeps him up at night.

“Nothing,” Mattis answered. “I keep other people awake at night.”

In 2005 he attracted controversy for telling an audience at a panel discussion: “It’s fun to shoot some people.”

One of the reasons he doesn’t like much press around, especially when he is with soldiers, is so that he can be himself, talk like a Marine. He got into trouble again in August when he used macho language to urge submariners on in their duty. According to the transcript of a speech he gave at Naval Base Kitsap in Washington, he told sailors they faced the best and worst days of their life ahead. “That means you’re living.” He said. “That means you’re not some pussy sitting on the sidelines.”

But to see the 67-year-old Mattis in action in the Mideast in his blue blazer and purple tie and thoughtful, scholarly approach to leaders and defense ministers is to see more of the “warrior monk” as he is sometimes called, than “Mad Dog” Mattis, a nickname given to him “on a slow day” by a journalist.

The lifelong bachelor often carries a volume of “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher, with him on the road from his vast library of 6,000 books.

A proud Westerner — he was born and raised and schooled in Washington state — he said he is currently reading “Earning the Rockies,” about how geography determines who you are. You get the sense from Mattis that he’d rather be somewhere west of the Rockies, and he’s only doing this because he was asked, not because he particularly wanted the job. When asked by a reporter if he likes what he’s doing after a year, He says, “It doesn’t matter what I feel, it’s my duty.”

His tour was all about quiet engagement rather than big policy announcements or rah-rah visits with the troops, like these tours have been with past secretaries. Davis said that’s because Mattis comes at such staged events from the enlisted man’s perspective, having attended quite a few himself that he thought were a waste of time, and such events sometimes put a bigger target on troops in combat zones. In Mattis’ view, Davis said, such photo-op stops are more about the secretary than the soldiers. Mattis’ focus is unwaveringly on the grunt in uniform. He’s not one to be distracted by the bright lights of self-importance.

“He sees no value in having his name in the paper,” an unnamed Defense official told the Washington Examiner.

Clearly he limits the D.C. press as a result. Davis said it’s not about the scripted moments and daily news “deliverables” for Mattis. Off the plane, the press was mostly sidelined, secondary to the secretary’s central mission of private talks with leaders, a focus that caused not a small amount of grumbling.

Only eight of the 18 seats in the press cabin were filled on the Mideast trip, and he’s taken to including press from beyond the beltway, such as the Christian Broadcasting Network, Breitbart and The Gazette. But he talks to reporters, informally and articulately, on the plane more than other Defense secretaries, one reporter said.

His emphasis on the little guy throughout his career carries over to the press, apparently. “I see these other guys all the time. They’re a pain in the ass,” he joked aloud about representatives of NBC, AP, Bloomberg and Reuters. CNN, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post were conspicuously absent from the trip.

Mattis’ reputation for aggressive action and the preponderance of military brass in the leadership of this administration have worried some Washington observers that the military is essentially taking over foreign policy and the use of force will become a too-prominent tool of our foreign policy.

The White House has populated many of its key positions with ex-generals and expanded their authority, including national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Chief of Staff John Kelley and of course Mattis, who had to receive a waiver to become Defense secretary because usually you have to wait seven years after retiring from active duty to get the job, and he only had three.

But Mattis doesn’t see more military in leadership as a negative whatsoever. The military has had to be in the diplomacy business for years, he said, and foreign policy is necessarily a combination of military, diplomatic and economic options. He has a strong relationship with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, perhaps his closest ally in the administration, and has called in the past for more resources for the State Department. In congressional testimony in 2013, he said, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

Mattis believes rather the opposite, that the military has a crucial wider role to play in diplomacy, and U.S. society at large.

What does our warrior in chief see as our biggest threat right now? Not ISIS or Russia or even Iran. He’s most worried about the divisiveness he sees back in the homeland.

His spokesman Davis says Mattis believes deep in his gut that it’s up to the military to play a unifying role in this time of acute partisanship. The military, Davis points out, is perhaps the most representative and most respected institution in the country right now, polling far ahead of politicians and journalists.

In a speech in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Mattis said, “Our military has often served as an example to the American people of unity and strength, of how a diverse group of people can be motivated … to come together as equals. Military service in America is a touchstone for American patriots of all races, genders, creeds.”

We’ve come a long way from the Vietnam days when soldiers themselves were a cause of division, spit on and vilified. In the world according to Mattis, the military is healer and inspirer, a social force for getting us past our divisions and again finding common ground.

In a now-famous letter to troops before the start of the Iraq War, Mattis put it this way:

“You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. … Share your courage with each other … keep faith in your comrades on your left and on your right. … Fight with a happy heart and a strong spirit. Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine. … On your young shoulders rest the hopes of mankind.”

More to celebrate this weekend

Fourth of July weekend, tis a time to celebrate right? Yes, by all means, we should be celebrating the birth of this once great nation that is slowly but surely on the road to becoming great again. This road will not be in the fast lane, in fact, it may even be on the shoulder trying to get back onto the roadway. Our new Secretary of Defense, made a decision; however, he waited till yesterday, 30 June to make the announcement. How appropriate was that?  So, there is much more than the birth of our nation to celebrate this weekend. Enjoy yourselves , but keep praying for our nation to get back onto the road.



Sec. Mattis Has a New Nickname

to Replace ‘Mad Dog’… Oh, and He Does His Own Laundry at The Pentagon, Too!


You never know who you are going to run into when the President of the United States addresses Congress.

Rounding a corner in the Capitol building approximately one hour before Trump’s speech Tuesday night, I ran directly into a group of veterans attempting to get a photo with none other than Secretary of Defense James Mattis. One of the soldiers looked at me desperately for assistance in taking the photo. I obliged and afterwards introduced myself to the Secretary.

“Hi, I’m Jim,” Mattis, the American military legend said casually, gripping my hand. I asked how his transition was going at the Pentagon:

Oh, it’s so good to be back. I had to get away for a while to really appreciate it. People in our military are just incredible. We work as a cohesive unit. Everyone has a duty and a job to do. My staff view it as the highest honor and privilege, getting to work at the Pentagon every day.

I treat the people inside that building like my family.

When I go down to get my laundry in the basement, I factor in ten extra minutes every trip just so I can talk with people. Ya know, they see me coming down the hallway and want to ask something, they should be able to. We work just like a family.








I asked the Secretary of Defense if he actually does his own laundry at the Pentagon. “Well, yes,” he said, looking at me as though it would be strange if he did not do his own laundry.

I asked the Secretary why he carries his own bags everywhere he goes. The question was in reference to this recent story we had published about the Secretary always carrying his own bags, behavior that is not standard for D.C.’s powerful.








“Well, I have two hands, don’t I?” was Mattis’ response, looking down at his open palms.

His aide was pulling him in another direction and I sensed this would be the final question, so I asked if anyone in the Pentagon calls him ‘Mad Dog.” He paused and said:

You know, that is not my real call sign? That was something made up by the press. Some reporter, who needed a quick name for me. My real name is Chaos. “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution.” That is my real call sign and what my men used to call me. Anyone who has ever worked with me calls me Chaos. That’s the name I prefer.

I stood there, shell-shocked from Mattis’ response. The Secretary of Defense leaned in toward me and said, “Call me Chaos,” winked, and walked away.

I hope my experience can serve as a public service announcement for you and your family: If you ever have the good fortune of meeting the man in charge of the most powerful military in human history, call him “Chaos.”

PS from me. Do you think his predecessor, Ash & Trash Carter, carried his own bag and did his own laundry?  That’s laughable. CHAOS, what a man, what a leader, what a gentleman, what a Sec Def!

Meet your new SecDef

I know the author of this great article about your new Secretary of Defense. Heart warming to say the least. While his moniker of “Mad Dog” makes the liberals fear him, they know not about what they speak. Of course, that’s not unusual for them.


Letter to the editor: My friendship with Gen. Jim Mattis

By Jack Matthews

I first met then-Maj. Jim Mattis, U.S. Marines, in 1984 when he was a student at the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, Virginia. While I was a tactics instructor at the college, he and I formed a friendship that has lasted for the past 33 years.

In the summer of 2009 I had arranged for a foot surgeon at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., to reconstruct my left foot. I had been wounded in Vietnam and after 13 surgeries I was hoping that this doctor at Georgetown could finally fix the problem.

I called then-Gen. Jim Mattis, Commander Joint Forces Command, and asked him if I could recuperate at his quarters for a few days at the Norfolk Naval Base.

Long story short, post operation the foot became infected and gangrene had set in. Gen. Mattis immediately arranged for me to meet with the orthopedic surgeons at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital, and as soon as they saw the foot they determined that it had to be amputated. Thus on Oct. 30, 2009, my left foot came off.

The navy surgeons performed what is called an ERTL procedure on me, where in essence they constructed a bone bridge between the fibula and tibia.

What was initially designed to be a very short stay with the general eventually turned into 17 weeks of me living in the Virginia House aboard the Norfolk naval base.

What I would like the reader to appreciate is that I was confined to a wheelchair for those 17 weeks with my mobility severely curtailed. I simply cannot count the number of times Jim Mattis carried my wheelchair up or downstairs, so we could eat together and just visit.

The general had a very demanding schedule and was often absent from the Virginia House. But whenever he was home, he would routinely take me in my wheelchair for walks out to see the naval ships that were tied up along the piers. Oftentimes it was cold as hell in December as the general wheeled me about, and the conversation would frequently gravitate to us talking about my heroes: “The Chosen Few.” (The First Marine Division’s epic withdrawal from the Chosen Reservoir in December 1950.)

In December 2009, Gen. Mattis hosted a Christmas Party for all the navy folks — surgeons, nurses and corpsmen — who attended to me while I was a patient in the hospital before and after the amputation. To their credit, they all wanted to have their pictures taken with the general in front of the Christmas tree.

During this whole process Gen. Jim Mattis taught me the meaning of friendship and what it meant to be a real friend. Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager said it far better than I ever could:

“Keep smiling, keep shining

Knowing you can always count on me, for sure

That’s what friends are for

For good times and bad times

I’ll be on your side forever more

That’s what friends are for.”

Gen. Mattis came to Bend in January 2010 to see me on his way to visit his mother in Richland, Washington. We had arranged to have a luncheon in his honor at the Broken Top Club. After the lunch the general was going to address a large gathering in the Great Room at Broken Top. It was obviously my job to introduce him to the audience.

When I stepped up to the podium all I could think of was Gen. Mattis’ kindness, generosity, and friendship and how he welcomed me at the Virginia House, particularly all those wheelchair rides. Before I could say a word I broke down in front of all those in attendance. Trying to get it together, I told all those in the Great Room that I was sorry, and then turned to Gen. Jim Mattis and with tears in my eyes, and simply said, “Thank you.”

That’s your new secretary of defense.

Retired Lt. Col. Jack Matthews, of the U.S. Marines, lives in Bend.