Trump nom­i­nates re­tired gen­eral to lead Pen­tagon

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGEN­CIES in Cincin­nati, Ohio

US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said on Thursday that he has picked the tough-talk­ing re­tired gen­eral James Mat­tis to be his de­fense sec­re­tary.

“We are go­ing to ap­point ‘Mad Dog’ Mat­tis as our sec­re­tary of de­fense,” Trump told cheer­ing sup­port­ers in Cincin­nati, re­fer­ring by nick­name to the fourstar Marine gen­eral who headed the US Cen­tral Com­mand, with au­thor­ity over troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He said the for­mal an­nounce­ment would be made on Mon­day.

“He’s our best. They say he’s the clos­est thing to (World War II) gen­eral Ge­orge Pat­ton that we have,” Trump said, ap­par­ently di­vulging his pick days ahead of sched­ule as his tran­si­tion team had al­ready said there would be no more cabi­net announcements this week.

Be­cause he only re­tired in 2013, Mat­tis would need the US Congress to waive a re­quire­ment that a de­fense sec­re­tary be a civil­ian for at least seven years be­fore tak­ing the top job at the Pen­tagon. His im­pres­sive com­bat record, how­ever, may de­ter some Se­nate Democrats from try­ing to block his nom­i­na­tion.

But at least one Demo­crat, Sen­a­tor Kirsten Gil­li­brand, has al­ready sig­naled she will op­pose the waiver.

“Civil­ian con­trol of our mil­i­tary is a fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of Amer­i­can democ­racy,” the sen­a­tor tweeted from New York.

Trump’s sur­round­ing him­self with mil­i­tary fig­ures — he has picked re­tired gen­eral Michael Flynn to be his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser and is con­sid­er­ing re­tired gen­eral David Pe­traeus for sec­re­tary of state — has un­nerved some ob­servers who point to the coun­try’s long tra­di­tion of civil­ian govern­ment.

Tough talk

Mat­tis, whose past as­sign­ments in­clude lead­ing Cen­tral Com­mand, which over­sees US mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in the Mid­dle East and South Asia, is known for his col­or­ful ex­pres­sions that unashamedly em­brace the job of the US armed forces: Fight­ing wars.

In one fa­mous line at­trib­uted to him, the gen­eral told Marines in Iraq in 2003: “Be po­lite, be pro­fes­sional, but have a plan to kill every­body you meet.”

Such tough talk has got­ten him in hot wa­ter. He was once re­buked for say­ing in 2005 that “it’s fun to shoot some peo­ple”.

James Mat­tis, Trump’s pick for de­fense sec­re­tary

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