Gen (Ret.) James “Mad Dog” Mattis was almost unanimously confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee as the nation’s next Secretary of Defense.
The final tally was 26 to 1, with the sole dissenter being Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who expressed concerns about maintaining civilian control of the military.
Mattis now only needs full Senate vote before he finally takes the top Pentagon position.
Considering the fact that the Senate is Republican-controlled and the waiver to allow him to serve passed with strong bi-partisan support (81-17) earlier this month, the retired Marine Corps general should face no difficulties in taking the job.
However, that wouldn’t have been so easy without the waiver, because current law requires a military officer to wait 7 years after service before being eligible to be secretary of defense, and Mattis retired in 2013.
The last officer who was granted this exemption was World War II hero General George C. Marshall, who became the defense secretary a little less than five years after serving as chief of staff of the Army.
During his confirmation hearing, Mattis, 66, spoke about the issues of the threat posed by Russia and the Iran nuclear deal.
“I think right now, the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with in Mr. Putin and we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance and we take the integrated steps — diplomatic, economic, military and the alliance steps, working with our allies — to defend ourselves where we must,” Mattis said.
He shares Trump’s stand in seeking to work with and be on friendly terms with Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin, but sees that currently as a shrinking universe, reports Western Journalism.
“I’m all for engagement, but we also have to recognize reality and what Russia is up to,” Mattis said. “There is a decreasing number of areas where we can engage cooperatively and an increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia.”
Regarding the Iran nuclear deal, Mattis said:
“I think this is an imperfect arms control agreement–it’s not a friendship treaty. But when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”
Commenting on Mattis and other cabinet nominees expressing views different from his own, Trump tweeted on Friday, “I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!”
All of my Cabinet nominee are looking good and doing a great job. I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 13, 2017
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