President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday night at his first stop in his post-election “Thank You Tour” that he will appoint retired Marine General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as Secretary of Defense.
“We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our Secretary of Defense,” Trump surprised a huge crowd in a rally held in Cincinnati, Ohio. “But we’re not announcing it until Monday, so don’t tell anybody.”
Trump added, “They say [Mattis] is the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have and it’s about time.”
Mattis met with Trump at his estate in Bedminster, NJ on Nov. 19, and became a frontrunner for the running of defense secretary. After the meeting, Trump tweeted that Mattis was “very impressive.”
General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who is being considered for Secretary of Defense, was very impressive yesterday. A true General’s General!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
Mattis served over 40 years career throughout the ranks in the Marine Corps and is known for being one of the most influential military leaders for his leading hand in some of U.S. military’s most strategic operations. In 2001, Mattis led a task force into southern Afghanistan and a Marine division during the Iraq invasion in 2003, helping him to earn the nickname “Mad Dog.”
By 2010, Mattis was promoted to run the U.S. Central Command, a post that gave him a command responsible for all the U.S. forces in the Middle East. Mattis retired from the Marines in 2013.
Since Mattis has not been out of uniform for seven years, a waiver is needed to confirm his nomination. Under the National Security Act of 1947, the Secretary of Defense must be a civilian who has been out of uniform for at least 10 years. In 2008, congress lowered the limit from 10 to seven years. In order for Mattis to be nominated, Congress will need to pass a legislation waiving the federal law that bars anyone on active duty in the last seven years from becoming defense secretary.
GOP House and Senate Armed Services Committee members have already drawn up the required waiver needed to present to Congress if Trump were to nominate Mattis, according to FOX News.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, signaled support of Trump’s pick. The Arizona Senator urged Trump to consider appointing Mattis or Gen. Jack Keane for Defense Secretary.
“General Mattis has a clear understanding of the may challenges facing the Department of Defense, the U.S. military, and our national security,” McCain said in a statement. “America will be fortunate to have General Mattis in its service once again.”
Democrats, on the other hand are opposing the waiver to nominate Mattis. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), a member of the Senate Armed Services subcommittee on personnel said after the announcement that she will oppose clearing the way for Mattis confirmation.
“While I deeply respect General Mattis’s service, I will oppose a waiver,” Gillibrand said. “Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule.”