Applauding Obama's appointment of James Mattis to Central Command

I think it a good move:

A four-star Marine general known equally for blunt speech, combat prowess and understanding counterinsurgency warfare will be nominated to command American forces across the Middle East, officials said Thursday.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates described the nominee, Gen. James N. Mattis, as “one of our military’s outstanding combat leaders and strategic thinkers, bringing an essential mix of experience, judgment and perspective to this important post.”

If confirmed by the Senate as the top officer of the military’s Central Command, General Mattis would be in charge of American military forces in a strategic area from Egypt through Pakistan, and from Central Asia past the Persian Gulf.

His area of responsibility would include Iraq and Afghanistan, but most of his focus would be on other trouble spots in the region, as each of those two conflicts have a four-star officer specifically in command.

What kinds of blunt things has the man been known to have said?

These kinds of blunt things:

  • For the mission’s sake, for our country’s sake, and the sake of the men who carried the Division’s colors in past battles — “who fought for life and never lost their nerve” — carry out your mission and keep your honor clean. Demonstrate to the world there is “No Better Friend — No Worse Enemy” than a US Marine.
    • Mattis’ words in a message to the 1st Marine Division before the 2003 Iraq War as quoted in “Eve of Battle Speech” in The Weekly Standard (1 March 2003); also quoted in War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003) by Oliver North, p. 53
  • Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
    • One of the rules Maj. Gen. James Mattis gave his Marines to live by in Iraq, as quoted in Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006) by Thomas E. Ricks; as excerpted in Armed Forces Journal (August 2006)
  • I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f*ck with me, I’ll kill you all.
    • After the invasion of Iraq -and after sending his tanks and artillery home- Mattis sent this message to the Iraqi leaders in every area his men served in, as quoted in Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq (2006) by Thomas E. Ricks; as excerpted in Armed Forces Journal (August 2006)
  • In this age, I don’t care how tactically or operationally brilliant you are, if you cannot create harmony–even vicious harmony–on the battlefield based on trust across service lines, across coalition and national lines, and across civilian/military lines, you need to go home, because your leadership is obsolete. We have got to have officers who can create harmony across all those lines.
  • PowerPoint makes us stupid.

It’s likely to be a long time before I tip my hat to Obama again but tip it I do here.

Well done Mr. President. 

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