The Truth About ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, Trump’s Defense Secretary Pick
Gen. Mattis a modern-day tactician
Donald Trump will nominate General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis to be his Secretary of Defense, which has prompted an increased interest in the general’s history, philosophy, and accomplishments.
An email from Mattis to a colleague from 2003 has surfaced, thanks to the work of military historian, Jill R. Russell, who published the correspondence with permission, in its original form, to the blog Strife.
Mattis stressed the importance of military leaders reading extensively and regularly, and studying from the experiences of others, in order to develop a knowledge base deep enough to preserve lives in the field.
The letter was shared virally via email, as it was written long before social media was in popular use.
Russel notes in her article, “Much is written and [believed to be] known about the General as a warrior. Less is known about him as a true student of his profession. I would submit that it is quite impossible to correctly understand the former without a proper interrogation of the latter.”
“Furthermore, there is his consideration of the views of others – as in the breadth of his reading or response to my comments – suggesting that he had not fallen prey to the hubris of the powerful, which is to believe they have all of the answers,” she adds. “Good leaders don’t only hear ‘yes’ from the people around them. Thus, the insight these words give to his thinking and interests is invaluable.”
Mattis’ letter reads as follows –
“…The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.
Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead…”
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