by Andy Weddington
Tuesday, 06 December 2016
I get a lot of credit these days for things I never did. General James N. Mattis, USMC (U. S. Naval Academy 2004)
Sunday arrived email from a Marine spouse (a couple not met) inquiring as to silence on President-elect Trump's nomination of General James N. Mattis, USMC (Retired) as Secretary of Defense.
The writer was looking for some assurance of their sentiments - believing, for his reputation and in these times, the right man for the job.
I served with (worked for) General Mattis not quite 20 years ago - not in the operating forces but in Manpower & Reserve Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps; he a new brigadier general, and I a new lieutenant colonel.
My action officer duties, reporting to a colonel, included briefing General Mattis on occasion.
Briefs were briefs - sometimes pleasant, sometimes not.
A focused, intense, and demanding man; always.
An easy read - no doubt when pleased, and no doubt when not. And that was good though not always "good."
In short, clarity, with brevity, a strength.
Not quite 10 years later our paths crossed, indirectly, seeing a professional matter differently. Imagine, Marines disagreeing! In the end, no one won.
No argument that General Mattis has realized great success on battlefields.
Will General Mattis succeed as Secretary of Defense?
First - define succeed. His, our, commander-in-chief must establish clear mission, including timelines, with measurable objectives.
Second - roots matter. Simple or complex the issue, direction and answers found in Core Values: Honor. Courage. Commitment.
When General Joe Dunford, USMC, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently asked by a reporter if any concerns about the nomination of General Mattis he quickly replied, "No."
General Dunford served under General Mattis. He knows.
Assuring the email sender ...
"Yes, for reputation and in these times, right man for the job."
But, succeed, or not, one thing is certain - General Mattis will get credit due.
General Mattis 20 years ago is not General Mattis today - nor tomorrow. That applies to all, is fact, and an integral principle to a field of study I first encountered about 40 years ago. Though a voracious reader and contemplative man, doubt General Mattis is familiar so, in light of looming new duties, recommend 'Semantics and Communication' by John C. Condon. General Semantics - a foundation in sanity. And that's essential facing and attempting to tame an "unsane" and insane world.