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Jim Mattis
James Mattis official photo.jpg
26th United States Secretary of Defense
In office
January 20, 2017 – December 31, 2018
President Donald Trump
Deputy Robert O. Work
Patrick M. Shanahan
Preceded by Ash Carter
Succeeded by Patrick M. Shanahan (acting)
Commander of the United States Central Command
In office
August 11, 2010 – March 22, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by David Petraeus
Succeeded by Lloyd Austin
Commander of the United States Joint Forces Command
In office
November 9, 2007 – August 11, 2010
Preceded by Lance L. Smith
Succeeded by Raymond T. Odierno
Supreme Allied Commander Transformation
In office
November 9, 2007 – September 8, 2009
Deputy Luciano Zappata
Preceded by Lance L. Smith
Succeeded by Stéphane Abrial
Personal details
James Norman Mattis

(1950-09-08) September 8, 1950 (age 72)
Pullman, Washington, U.S.
  • Central Washington University (BA)
  • National Defense University (MA)
  • "Chaos" (callsign)
  • "Warrior Monk"
  • "Mad Dog"
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1969–2013
Rank US Marine 10 shoulderboard.svg General
  • U.S. Central Command
  • U.S. Joint Forces Command
  • Supreme Allied Commander Transformation
  • I Marine Expeditionary Force
  • U.S. Marine Forces Central Command
  • Marine Corps Combat Development Command
  • 1st Marine Division
  • 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade
  • 7th Marine Regiment
  • 1st Battalion, 7th Marines
  • Defense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
  • Navy Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Navy Distinguished Service Medal
  • Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal
  • Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit
  • Bronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star (with Valor)
  • Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal (3)

James Norman Mattis (born September 8, 1950) is an American veteran and former government official who served as the 26th United States Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through December 2018. He resigned over policy differences with President Donald Trump. A retired United States Marine Corps general, Mattis served in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.

Mattis was commissioned in the Marine Corps through the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps after graduating from Central Washington University. A career Marine, he gained a reputation among his peers for "intellectualism," and eventually advanced to the rank of general. From 2007 to 2010, he commanded the United States Joint Forces Command and concurrently served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He was Commander of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013. After retiring from the military, he served in several private sector roles, including as a board member of Theranos.

Mattis was nominated as Secretary of Defense by President-elect Trump, and confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2017. He needed a waiver from Congress to allow his nomination to be considered, as he had only been separated from the military for three years and U.S. federal law requires at least seven years of retirement for former military personnel to be appointed Secretary of Defense. As Secretary of Defense, Mattis affirmed the United States' commitment to defending longtime ally South Korea in the wake of the 2017 North Korea crisis. An opponent of proposed collaboration with China and Russia, Mattis stressed what he saw as their "threat to the American-led world order". Mattis occasionally voiced his disagreement with certain Trump administration policies, opposing the proposed withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and budget cuts that hamper the ability to monitor the impacts of climate change.

Personal life

Mattis has never been married and has no children. He proposed to a woman, but she called off the wedding days before it was to occur, not wanting to burden his career. He is nicknamed "The Warrior Monk" because of his bachelorhood and lifelong devotion to the study of war.

Mattis is a Catholic, and has been described as "devout" and "committed." During the 2003 Iraq invasion, he often prayed with general John F. Kelly on Sundays. The Trump transition team's formal biography of Mattis described him as "the living embodiment of the Marine Corps motto, Semper Fidelis." He has declined when asked by reporters to discuss his faith in public. In a 2003 PBS interview, Mattis recalled how his Marines followed advice from his chaplain on gaining the support of Iraqi citizens: "On the suggestion of my Catholic chaplain the Marines would take chilled drinking water in bottles and walk out amongst the protesters and hand it out. It is just hard to throw a rock at somebody who has given you a cold drink of water and it's 120 degrees outside."

In popular culture

  • Mattis is portrayed by Robert John Burke in the 2008 HBO miniseries Generation Kill, depicting the events of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
  • Mattis is also known for the internet meme depicting him as "Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos."
  • Mattis is commonly 'reported on' by the military satire website Duffel Blog for potentially being fired, winning an 'arms race' with Russia, and crossing the Potomac to launch a Roman-style coup d'état.

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