General James “Mad Dog” Mattis did not take long to demonstrate his unique brand of command and motivation after being almost unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on Friday.
The 66-year-old Mattis had an additional hurdle to get that approval, needing a waiver under the National Security Act of 1947, prohibiting recently retired military personnel from taking civilian command of the Department of Defense. Mattis retired in 2013 as chief of U.S. Central Command. The only other general to receive such a waiver was General George Marshall following World War II.
Gen. Mattis return to the military command structure has received overwhelming support from military veterans and politicians alike. His reputation as a fierce warrior and deep-thinking philosopher, combined with his legendary record of combat experience have created a cult following and his “Mattisisms” have become a cottage industry on their own.
After being confirmed by the Senate, Gen. Mattis was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence and almost immediately issued a letter to all Department of Defense employees, highlighting his legendary leadership style. The letter reads:
It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense.
Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.
Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.
I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary.