WASHINGTON, D.C. — Some U.S. lawmakers who served in the military prior to joining Congress welcome President-elect Donald Trump’s appointment of retired Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis to be his secretary of defense, despite criticism that it breaks tradition of naming a civilian for the post.
Trump vowed to be an outside-of-the-Beltway-box president, so breaking a Washington, D.C. tradition could be construed as a keeping a promise to the people. To supporters of his decision, Gen. Mattis is what the Pentagon needs to rein in its unprecedented and still growing population of civilian employees and contractors at the expense of a shrinking military.
Breitbart News reached out to all U.S. lawmakers who have served in the military prior to joining Congress, asking them to comment on Trump’s Gen. Mattis pick.
Only a few responded, none of them Democrats, though the vast majority of military veteran lawmakers are Republicans.
Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), a retired combat veteran and the first Navy SEAL to be elected to U.S. Congress, served with Gen. Mattis in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
At the time, the Montana Republican was serving as commander of Joint Special Forces in the country and the “Mad Dog” as leader of the First Marine Division.
Rep. Zinke described the potential secretary of defense as “a Marine’s Marine whose God-given ability to inspire and lead men and women on the battlefield is legendary.”
“My experience serving with General Mattis in Iraq was one of the most formidable times in my 23-year service with the U.S. Navy SEALs. I learned a lot from the ‘Warrior Monk’ and can think of no other man or woman who is as well-equipped to serve as the next Secretary of Defense at this point in time,” continued the former commander at the fabled Navy SEAL Team Six.
Given his personal experience on the battlefield, Gen. “Mad Dog” Mattis is a man who would understand “war and the warrior ethos” better than any civilian appointed to the Pentagon chief post, argued Zinke.
“He makes a point of being in the thick of things with his troops and he makes a point of connecting personally with his men and women – something career bureaucrats in Washington are incapable of doing,” he also said.
That being said, Gen. Mattis is no stranger to to dealing with the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.
“While trying to keep our troops alive [in Fallujah], General Mattis also had to deal with the politics of the State Department and armchair quarterbacks at the Pentagon and White House, and all under the watchful eye of the international media. General Mattis did an exemplary job. General Mattis has proven himself a thousand times over,” noted Congressman Zinke.
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, also welcomed Trump’s appointment for secretary of defense.
“The last eight years have seen a steady erosion of our military’s capabilities and readiness. Looking abroad, our enemies often don’t respect us and our allies don’t trust us. I welcome the nomination of James Mattis as our next Secretary of Defense,” he told Breitbart News, in a statement via e-mail. “A respected and admired Marine leader, I look forward to working with him to restore U.S. leadership across the globe.”
When asked to comment on Gen. Mattis’ appointment, Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK), a retired lieutenant colonel and Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, acknowledged that it was good step towards to prioritizing military readiness and the defense of the American homeland after years of putting it on the back burner.
“It appears that the president-elect’s national security team will be far more concerned about the readiness for our country’s defense than about political social agendas,” he told Breitbart News.
Mattis’s candidacy to be secretary of defense has also received positive responses from from Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“General Mattis has a clear understanding of the many challenges facing the Department of Defense, the U.S. military, and our national security,” said McCain, a Vietnam War veteran. “America will be fortunate to have General Mattis in its service once again.”
Trump’s choice for Pentagon chief breaks with about 65 years of history by appointing a retired senior military to the post.
About 65 years ago, Congress passed legislation saying it was “the sense” of lawmakers that “no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved.”
The last military man to serve as secretary of defense was five-star Army Gen. George C. Marshall under President Truman from 1950 to 1951.
Military Times described Gen. Mattis as “the most revered Marine general in at least a generation.” He is reportedly admired by both Pentagon civilians and military personnel.