President-elect Donald Trump has officially nominated retired Marine Corps General James "Mad Dog" Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Here's what that could mean for the US military.
For a start, Gen. Mattis is a popular figure among US soldiers and with congressional lawmakers, Military Times reports. That should mean widespread support from both active-duty servicemen and women and an easy confirmation from the Republican-controlled Senate. But more than that, Mattis is likely to share President-elect Trump's hawkish and belligerent stance towards Iran. Military Times report Mattis' views on Iran drove him out of his role as head of US Central Command, the body that oversees American military operations in the Middle East.
"He pushed a lot more of a hawkish tone towards Iran," said Bryan Clark, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments and a former top aide to former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jon Greenert. "At the time, the Obama administration was trying to use the 'carrot and stick' method to get Iran to the table: The carrot being the nuclear negotiations and the sticks being the stepped up carrier presence. Mattis favored using the stick until the adversary cedes to your wishes — then bring out the carrots."
Mattis has also been critical of the US government's attitude toward potential threats, including Russia, China, and terrorist groups like ISIS. The retired general co-authored a report earlier this year condemning the lack of national security strategy of the Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations.
"We are seeing the results of 20 years of the United States operating unguided by strategy. We have been slow to identify emergent threats and unwilling to prioritize competing interests; we have sent confounding messages to enemies and allies alike. Our country urgently needs to up our game, make common cause with countries that are willing to help repair and sustain the international order that has served the United States and our allies so well," the report reads.
With Mattis as SECDEF and Trump in the oval office, we can expect a more assertive and hawkish US military. Whether that's a good thing or not remains to be seen.