Retired Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis is said to be the leading contender to be President Donald Trump’s Secretary of Defense. The more I read about him the more I see why.
Mattis is a combat leader, respected by other officers and by the troops. He’s a well-read military historian who takes the time to thoroughly understand the theaters he is operating in. He knows strategy, tactics, leadership, and the Big Picture. He has given his country and his Marine Corps 44 years of exemplary service. He understands the world and the threats that face America. He knows both the uses and limitations of military power. He appears to be a perfect fit for a commander in chief who means to be serious about defending America.
And there is one intangible benefit General Mattis brings with him that should not be overlooked or underestimated. How useful it would be those across the world who wish us ill to know that we have a SECDEF named Mad Dog. This might make potential enemies harboring foolish thoughts to think again. We don’t get an opportunity like this every day. We shouldn’t let it go by.
Colorful sobriquets are not uncommon in the Marine Corp. The most decorated Marine in American history was General “Chesty” Puller, a World War II hero. Another hero of the Pacific campaign was General “Howlin’ Mad” Smith. (Perhaps the Brits have had a general named Barking Mad.) In some situations, a kind of disciplined madness, or at least the appearance of it, is what is needed.