Today was General James Mattis‘ confirmation hearing, following which the waiver for him to serve as Secretary of Defense was signed off on. Contradicting the internet memes and media reputation, General Mattis conducted himself as a the well-read professional that we would have expected from him, rather than a “mad dog.”
While a confirmation hearing is not really the place to get into in-depth strategies, Mattis appears well prepared to be Secretary of Defense with a nuanced understanding of the great variety of threats that America is currently faced with. He identified Russia as America’s greatest threat, rather than Islamic terrorism. I would argue that China is actually the bigger threat, but respect Mattis’ answer. He is not obsessed with counter-terrorism but looks at the big picture.
Mattis also understands that our cyber-warfare capabilities are not even remotely where they should be. The former Marine General explained in multiple cases how solutions have to come from a holistic perspective which integrates many different governmental agencies.
Currently, the US military suffers from placing their focus in the wrong places. We have become obsessed with metrics, spreadsheets, trackers, risk mitigation, and careerism. Directionally, Mattis appears to be on the right track. Of course, he is not a messiah or savior either, and he will be in for many political battles within the Pentagon as he tries to reform the system.
I haven’t made it a secret that I’m not a big fan of Donald Trump, but I also promised our readers that I would congratulate the incoming administration when they do good rather than attack them simply out of spite or some other entrenched position. With General Mattis, Trump made the right choice.