Secretary of Defense James “Mad Dog” Mattis has become well-known for his snappy one-liners to the media, but many aren’t aware of how he acts with troops when the cameras aren’t around.
A recent Associated Press article captured some of the stories Mattis tells when he’s among U.S. forces in the field, or far from home, and they give a new dimension to the man who’s giving a new profile to the defense secretary’s job.
After spending more than 40 years in uniform as a U.S. Marine, Mattis often tells stories of his own personal experiences to help those under his command to push through the many difficulties they encounter daily to protect the country.
In one story, for instance, Mattis talked about how he had once avoided being killed in Iraq when his Marines caught a Sunni Muslim planting a bomb on a route Mattis and his convoy were expected to take.
As the AP reported, Mattis learned the man spoke English and decided to talk to him:
“After Mattis offered a cigarette and coffee, the man said he tried to kill the general and his fellow Marines because he resented the foreigner soldiers in his land. Mattis said he understood the sentiment but assured the insurgent he was headed for Abu Ghraib, the infamous U.S.-run prison. What happened next explains the point of the story.
“’General,’ the man asked Mattis, ‘if I am a model prisoner do you think someday I could emigrate to America?’
“In Mattis’ telling, this insurgent’s question showed he felt ‘the power of America’s inspiration.’ It was a reminder of the value of national unity.”
Another story demontrated the unpredictable nature of the country’s military needs. As the AP reported:
“Mattis recalled sitting in the back of a room at the Pentagon in June 2001 while senior political appointees of the new George W. Bush administration fired questions at a military briefer about where they should expect to see the most worrisome security threats. At one point, Mattis said, the briefer said confidently that amid all the uncertainty, the one place the U.S. definitely would not be fighting was Afghanistan.
“’Five-and-a-half months later, I was shivering in Afghanistan,’ Mattis said.”
In August, the Facebook page U.S Army W.T.F! moments uploaded a viral video of Mattis giving advice and thanking soldiers for their service.
“The only way this great big experiment you and I call America is going to survive is we got tough hombres like you,” Mattis said. “Just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other and showing it of being friendly to one another, you know, that Americans owe to one other. We’re so doggone lucky to be Americans.”
Mattis added: “As Americans we have two powers; the power of inspiration, and the power of intimidation.”
Check out the Facebook video below with Mattis’ comments:
Watch Defense Secretary Mattis giving an impromptu speech to deployed soldiers: "As Americans we have two powers; the power of inspiration, and the power of intimidation."
Posted by U.S Army W.T.F! moments on Thursday, August 24, 2017
Mattis concluded his speech with a little humor, but he made it clear how much he appreciates our heroes in uniform.
“The only reason why I can’t back off, I flunked retirement, OK, the only reason why I came back was to serve alongside young people like you who are so selfless and frankly so rambunctious. It’s a pleasure to be around you all,” he said.
Mattis has earned a reputation for being a strong, tough leader tasked with utterly destroying radical Islamic terrorists and other threats, but stories like these with our troops show how compassionate he is for those risking their lives to protect the U.S — and even for those he fights.
Mattis is an American hero, and it’s nice seeing how he interacts with our troops when the media isn’t around.
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H/T The Daily Caller