Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Secretary of Defense

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James Mattis picked as Secretary of Defense

When Donald Trump announced his pick for Secretary of Defense, a collective “Ooh-Rah!” was heard around the nation.

The President Elect announced his choice as Marine Corps General James “Mad Dog” Mattis.

The four-star general has been known for his colorful quotes such as “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

The Marine was previously Commander of United States Central Command but ended up on the wrong side of the Obama administration as Mattis had developed a reputation as being too eager to fight.

Again, a Marine Corps general was not “trusted” by the Commander in Chief because the warfighter did not shy away from military confrontation.

As a result of Obama’s lack of faith in General Mattis, he was essentially forced into retirement in 2013.

Trump’s confidence in Mattis is representative of the shift in thought that is taking place in government with the presidential transition.

Obama preferred to have pacifists as military commanders while Trump prefers to appoint men who have no problem killing enemy combatants.

As a Marine Corps officer, Mattis became one of the most loved generals since General Alfred Gray. Gray was a “mustang,” a Marine who enlisted then became an officer, rising to the highest rank of Commandant.

Gray, a Vietnam veteran, reminded all Marines of their primary role as rifleman, by always wearing his camouflage utility uniform and carrying a canteen cup.

In the “Hall of Commandants” that is adorned with a painted portrait of each Marine Corps Commandant throughout history. There are 36 paintings hanging of Marine Corps Commandants in their ornate dress uniform – then there is one painting of General Gray in his “cammies.”

Mattis, who prefers his call-sign, “Chaos” is a soft-spoken, unimposing man – until you have to fight him.

His aggressiveness in combat earned him the nickname “Mad Dog” and the young Marines who fought under his command credited him with providing both the strategy and motivation to not just win the battle but to beat the enemy until they are as “flat as a cat on a highway.”

Mattis’ determination comes at a price as he is married to combat. “Chaos” has never owned a television and spends his time studying warriors throughout history from the Spartans to the Comanche.

Trump will have one road block in getting confirmation of his Secretary of Defense in that Mattis is legally barred from serving a Secretary of Defense for seven years after his retirement from the military.

Mattis will have to receive a special exemption from Congress to receive the appointment.

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Barack Obama is reported to have handpicked Ashton Carter co-director of Harvard’s “Preventative Defense Project” as the next Secretary of Defense, replacing former Senator Chuck Hagel.

Carter can be described as a “nerd’s nerd” holding a doctorate in Theoretical Physics from Oxford along with is undergraduate degree from Yale in Medieval History.

The new SecDef pick is also a money-maker having advised investment funds for Global Technology Partners and consulted for Goldman Sachs.

While Ashton Carter may seem like a logical pick for the Secretary of State, a department with the responsibility of fostering international relations and peace, his placement as head of the Department of Defense may set a tone that undermines warfare capabilities.

The Department of Defense was originally established in 1789 as the United States Department of War.

The cornerstone at the Pentagon still displays the original name of the department. Pentagon visitors can find the inscription at the Mall Entrance of the building.

At the time of establishment and for decades after, the Secretary of War was a civilian position with limited oversight over military affairs. Instead, the original SecDefs were penny pinchers responsible for finance.

Today, the Secretary of Defense serves as the President’s primary advisor on military affairs, typically while holding no military command or even field experience.

The outgoing Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, served as a Sergeant in the Army during Vietnam. Hagel volunteered for the draft and was awarded several medals of commendation including two Purple Hearts.

Ashton Carter is expected to be unanimously confirmed for the position by Congress.

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