Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has appointed the new head of
Central Command: Four star general, Joint Forces Command chief, and
notoriously blunt-spoken Marine James Mattis. He will replace General
David Petraeus at CENTCOM, which oversees all U.S. military operations
in the Middle East and South Asia. Mattis is a memorable personality, to
say the least. His tough demeanor and penchant for colorful language
earned him a brief portrayal
Kill, the HBO miniseries drama about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Defense
writers are applauding the decision.
- 'Mattis is Terrific' Foreign
Policy's Tom Ricks, who wrote extensively on
Mattis's work in Iraq for his two books on the war, writes, "This is
the best news I have heard in a long time. Just when I think Gates has
lost his touch, he revives my faith by doing something like this.
Readers of this blog will know
that I think Mattis
and Petraeus Team Up Again The New Atlantcist's James Joyner writes,
"Congratulations to General Mattis on being selected for such a
prestigious post. He faces a daunting, if not insurmountable job. But
it's hard to imagine a better team than Mattis and Petraeus -- the 2009
recipient of the same award."
- 'Our Grant and Sherman' National
Review's Victor Davis Hanson gushes,
"Some of us had hoped three weeks ago that a leader like General Mattis
might become Centcom commander. The recent announcement that Secretary
Gates, wisely, has just done that could not come at a better time.
Mattis is a proven battlefield commander, a sophisticated student of
history, and unshakeable in his nerve and purpose. We now have, with
General Petraeus as ground commander, our two most gifted senior combat
generals in charge of Afghanistan, who have worked well together and who
were brilliant in Iraq in its darkest hours."
Thinker Will Change CENTCOM Wired's Spencer Ackerman writes,
"Mattis is the kind of guy who rabidly gnarls through the gristle of
pretty much every military shibboleth. He was into counterinsurgency
before it was dogma. At a time of tech-driven constant communication, he
thinks the military should be switching its radios off. Want to ensure
that all levels of the force are networked together? Mattis wants a
hierarchical organization like the military to embrace decentralization.
And now, pending Senate confirmation, this guy is going to be running
the most important command the military has."
Impressive' Defense Tech's Greg Grant writes, "This is a
great move. Defense Tech readers will know we are big fans of the blunt
speaking Mattis. As Gates said today, Mattis' intellect and knowledge
are truly impressive; he selected Mattis to lead the 'red team' that war
gamed scenarios that informed the recent QDR."
- A Unique
Personality Slate's John
Dickerson collects key anecdotes: "Mattis is known for his ferocity
and his risk-taking--which included regularly riding out into combat
with his jump platoon, despite his high rank. (That's something he'll
probably have to give up now.) He is also known for his intellect. He is
well-read in history and military strategy but has also studied
innovation and adaptation techniques. Mattis is also known for his
mouth. He is a jokester in person and also blunt. In the spring of 2003,
in the first of his meetings with recently defeated Iraqi military
leaders he famously said: 'I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery.
But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you fuck with me,
I'll kill you all."'"
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