Trump picks Mat­tis for Pen­tagon.

Fire­works with na­tional se­cu­rity pick ex­pected

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY CARLO MUNOZ AND S.A. MILLER Dave Boyer and Seth McLaugh­lin con­trib­uted to this re­port.

As he kicked off his post-elec­tion thank-you tour in Cincin­nati, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump an­nounced — sort of — that he was nam­ing U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis as de­fense sec­re­tary. But he told the crowd and the TV cam­eras not to let it out of the room.

“We are go­ing to ap­point ‘Mad Dog’ Mat­tis as our sec­re­tary of de­fense, but we are not an­nounc­ing it un­til Mon­day, so don’t tell any­body,” Mr. Trump said, re­fer­ring to the gen­eral by his nick­name.

“They say he is the clos­est thing to Gen­eral Ge­orge Pat­ton that we have, and it is about time, it is about time,” he said.

The emer­gence of Gen. Mat­tis could cre­ate a “com­plex chem­istry” be­tween the Pen­tagon and the White House, an­a­lysts al­ready were say­ing upon the first me­dia re­ports of the Mat­tis choice Thursday af­ter­noon.

For the gen­eral to as­sume the post, he would need Congress to waive a fed­eral law that bars any­one who has been on ac­tive duty in the last seven years from be­com­ing de­fense sec­re­tary. Gen. Mat­tis, 66, re­tired as com­man­der of the U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand in 2013 after a more than 40-year ca­reer in the Marine Corps.

The gen­eral, who was un­cer­e­mo­ni­ously forced out of the Pen­tagon by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion over his op­po­si­tion to the Iran nu­clear deal, was al­ready find­ing strong sup­port Thursday.

“The pub­lic will quickly rec­og­nize a per­son of deep char­ac­ter, strong in­tel­lect and ad­min­is­tra­tive skills that go be­yond the courage and lead­er­ship he has shown on the bat­tle­field,” said Paul McHale, a for­mer as­sis­tant de­fense sec­re­tary in the Ge­orge W. Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion and a three-term Demo­cratic con­gress­man be­fore that.

Mr. McHale, who served with Gen. Mat­tis as pla­toon com­man­ders in the Marines, said his mil­i­tary ex­pe­ri­ence — both on and off the bat­tle­field — will pay huge div­i­dends as De­fense Depart­ment chief.

“Jim knows the build­ing cold,” Mr. McHale said. “Just as he has led quite suc­cess­fully on the bat­tle­field, his lead­er­ship in the Pen­tagon will be ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

If con­firmed, Gen. Mat­tis would be the first ex-mil­i­tary of­fi­cer to head the Pen­tagon since Pres­i­dent Harry Tru­man se­lected Ge­orge Mar­shall for the post in 1950.

The blunt-spo­ken Gen. Mat­tis had long been con­sid­ered Mr. Trump’s top can­di­date for the Pen­tagon job after the pres­i­dent-elect’s ini­tial pick, re­tired Army Gen. Jack Keane, de­clined the nom­i­na­tion. The con­tenders list has also in­cluded for­mer CIA Direc­tor and re­tired Army Gen. David Pe­traeus and Stephen Hadley, who served as na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser for Mr. Bush.

Gen. Mat­tis could face a chal­lenge in work­ing with an­other gen­eral at the top of Mr. Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity team — re­tired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who will be Mr. Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser.

Gen. Flynn, who cam­paigned heav­ily for Mr. Trump, has gained a rep­u­ta­tion for “be­ing some­what provoca­tive and ‘dis­rup­tive’ ” dur­ing his time in uni­form, Michael O’Han­lon, a se­nior na­tional se­cu­rity an­a­lyst with the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton, said.

Given Gen. Flynn’s rep­u­ta­tion and Gen. Mat­tis’ pen­chant for bluntly speak­ing his mind on na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues, “there could be some com­plex chem­istry be­tween him and Mat­tis,” Mr. O’Han­lon said. “I’m not sure that’s bad, but it’s pos­si­ble.”

Gen. Mat­tis’ strong rep­u­ta­tion on Capi­tol Hill, along with the fact that the GOP holds ma­jori­ties in both the House and Se­nate, means that se­cur­ing the needed con­gres­sional waiver will not be dif­fi­cult, Mr. O’Han­lon said. Fox News re­ported Thursday that law­mak­ers on Capi­tol Hill are al­ready work­ing up draft leg­is­la­tion specif­i­cally al­low­ing Gen. Mat­tis to take the post.

Rep. Mac Thorn­berry, Texas Repub­li­can and chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, called Gen. Mat­tis “an ex­cel­lent se­lec­tion” and sig­naled that he’d help push the needed waiver.

“I will work with my col­leagues in the com­ing days to clear the way for his con­fir­ma­tion by the Se­nate,” he said.



Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s se­lec­tion of re­tired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mat­tis as the new de­fense sec­re­tary could set off a com­pli­cated dy­namic in the Pen­tagon.

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