When the news first broke that retired Marine General James Mattis was a contender for the role of secretary of defense, the memes came fast and furiously. American service members have long had a love affair with the man whose nicknames range from the aggressive “Mad Dog” to the intellectual “Warrior Monk,” and they expressed their respect and admiration in the only way millennials know how: by writing funny quips in white block lettering over the same photos of him thousands of times.
But reality rarely lives up to the hype fostered in the meme-ing communities, and James Mattis isn’t a warlord demigod with the power to smite ISIS with his mind, despite what the newsfeeds of most of my old Marine buddies might claim. Although widely recognized as one of the best combat tacticians of our day, one might expect that Mattis would take some time adjusting to his new role, learning the lay of the land, organizing the coin collection on his desk, and forwarding mail to Ash Carter’s new address.
But then again, this is James Mattis we’re talking about. So while the rest of us would be trying to figure out what time lunch is, he spent his first day ordering a series of 31 airstrikes on ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq.
According to the official statement from the Defense Department regarding the bombings in Syria, “Attack, bomber, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 25 strikes consisting of 39 engagements.”