[June 3, 2017] In December last year I profiled U.S. Army General Raymond Odierno. Senior military Flag Officers in the U.S. are similar in many of their key traits, but also differ significantly in other areas of leadership. One that differs is James Mattis, retired U.S. Marine four-star general and current Secretary of Defense under U.S. President Donald Trump.
“The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.” – U.S. Marine General James “Mad Dog” Mattis
James Mattis is certainly intelligent and, of course, witty … and it comes out in a recent media interview; giving us a glimpse into his personality. He was asked a question from CBS ‘Face the Nation’ host John Dickerson. Dickerson asked “What keeps you awake at night?” Note that this is a typical question asked of those in the military and high finance. Mattis’ response? “Nothing, I keep other people awake at night.”
In the military you learn some harsh lessons, especially those in combat positions of command. Mattis has commanded in combat on numerous occasions from the Gulf War to his last combat command in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Clearly he is not an armchair general or one who hides behind a desk; he was there, on the ground with his Marines.
Secretary of State Mattis is a man of the highest caliber. His leadership traits are:
- Open, honest, and brutally truthful
- Cares about his Marines, trusts them, and supports them fully
- A fighter, combative by nature, and tough
- Values intelligent fighting
- Uncompromising approach to Americaâ€™s enemies
- Well read and expert on foreign affairs
- Morally and physically courageous
Mattis, as U.S. Secretary of Defense, is responsible for the new military strategy to fight the Islamic State terror group. He said that fighting ISIS means we will now use annihilation rather than attrition. Anyone studying military history knows that you cannot pander to or attempt to appease an enemy. Mattis learned his lessons well.
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