President Donald Trump attended the swearing-in ceremony of retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as the 26th secretary of defense at the Pentagon, where Trump also signed two executive actions, including one to rebuild and expand the military.
“I’m signing an executive action to begin a great rebuilding of the armed services of the United States, developing a plan for new planes, new ships, new resources and new tools for our men and women in uniform,” Trump said after the swearing-in the retired Marine general. “I’m very proud to be doing that.”
“Our military strength will be questioned by no one, but neither will our dedication to peace,” he added. “We do want peace.”
Under former President Barack Obama, the U.S. Army, the largest branch of the military, pink-slipped tens of thousands of soldiers in the name of budget constraints — including many career-military troops who endured combat and family separations during years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cuts have reduced the Army to pre-World War II levels.
The president signed two executive actions after Vice-President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Mattis.
“We pledge our dedication to every single family serving our country and our flag. That is why today I am signing two executive actions to ensure the sacrifices of our military are supported by the actions of our government,” declared the commander-in-chief.
Trump signed an action that he explained is intended to establish “new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.”
“We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” he pointed out. “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people. We will never forget the lessons of 9/11.”
On the night of January 20, Mattis became the first member of the president’s cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate. “Thank you very much for your confidence in me and welcome to the headquarters of your military — your always loyal military — where America’s awesome determination to defend herself is on full display,” said the new secretary of defense at his swearing in ceremony.
“You’ve made clear Mr. President your commitment to a strong national defense,” he added.
Trump described the new Pentagon chief as “a man of total action.”
“Secretary Mattis has devoted his life to serving his country he is a man of honor a man of devotion and a man a total action. He likes action,” noted the president.
“I have the highest faith in your judgment, your courage, and your dedication to this nation,” Pence told Mattis.
On January 12, the Senate also approved a waiver to allow Mattis to serve as secretary of defense even though he had recently retired in 2013.
Under current law, an individual must be out of military uniform for at least seven years before taking the civilian position of Pentagon chief.
The statue has only been waived for George Marshall in 1950.