Trump Picks Retired General Mattis for Secretary of Defense

By TIM RYAN

WASHINGTON (CN) – President-elect Donald Trump Thursday selected retired Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis to serve as secretary of defense, the Washington Post reported, citing unidentified sources.

Mattis, 66, retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, having spent 41 years in the service that saw him lead operations in the Persian Gulf War as well as in Afghanistan and Iraq. He most recently served as the commander of the U.S. Central Command, a service that also produced potential Secretary of State David Petraeus.

He also served as supreme allied commander of NATO, an organization Trump has criticized in the past as “obsolete.”

His nomination will require more Congressional involvement than usual, as federal law prevents secretaries of defense from having served in an active duty role during the last seven years.

In April Mattis called Iran “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East,” and has criticized the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal.

Mattis also might be a check on Trump on the use of torture, as Trump recently credited Mattis with telling him he “never found [waterboarding] to be useful.” He reportedly told Trump, who has spoken glowingly of the torture technique in the past, he found it better to build trust with terror suspects.

Trump told the Times that Mattis had told him, “Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I’ll do better.”

Jason Miller, communications director for the trump transition team responded to The Washington Post story by saying, “No decision has been made yet with regard to secretary of defense.”