General Mattis, the current United States Secretary of Defense, serves under President Donald J. Trump. Mattis became the 26th Secretary of Defense January 20, 2017 when President Trump was inaugurated. Mattis is a retired Marine Corps General and was not retired the customary 7 years, so a waiver was written.

Prior to becoming Secretary of Defense, Mattis served as the 11th Commander of U. S. Central Command under President Obama August 11, 2010 to March 22, 2013, where he oversaw and commanded military action in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Northeast Africa. From November 9, 2007 to August 11, 2010, Mattis was Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command under Presidents Obama and George W. Bush. Mattis served in the U.S. Marine Corps 44 years, from 1969 to 2013, and had the callsign “Chaos” and the nicknames ‘Warrior Monk” and “Mad Dog.”

James Norman Mattis was born September 8, 1950 in Pullman, Washington to Lucille (Proulx) Mattis of Canada and John West Mattis, a merchant mariner.  James’ mother had worked in South Africa in Army Intelligence during World War Two. The Mattis family moved to Richland, Washington for John’s work, supplying material for the Manhattan Project. The family did not own a television. Reading was encouraged.

James graduated Columbia High School, 1968, Central Washington University, 1971 (B.A., History) and National War College, 1994 (M.A., International Security Affairs). He enlisted in 1992 to the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He became a lieutenant commanding the 3rd Marine Division, a captain in the 1st Marine Regiment, and a major recruiting in Portland, Oregon. While serving, Mattis graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School, and the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College.

Mattis worked his way up through the ranks. As lieutenant colonel, Mattis commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines in the Persian Gulf War. While colonel, Mattis led the 7th Marine Regiment and worked planning the war in Afghanistan. While major general, Mattis led the 1st Marine Division invading Iraq in 2003, then stayed on to stabilize the country. He was involved in Fallujah, he negotiated with those inside the city walls, and helped plan Operation Phantom Fury just months later in 2004. Controversially, he ordered the bombing of a wedding party, but He is quoted as saying, “How many people go to the middle of a desert to hold a wedding 80 miles from the nearest civilization? These were more than two dozen military-age males. Let’s not be naïve.” The Associated Press claimed the wedding was real.


Mattis is considered an intellectual, studying military and world history. He has owned a library of over 7000 books. Mattis requires his Marines to be educated in the culture they are deployed and he has required sensitivity training. He is noted for always being in the field with his marines. His motto is “no better friend, no worse enemy,” of the 1st Marine Division. He is a registered Independent with an estimated net worth of $5 million


AL ASAD, Iraq – Lt. Gen. James Mattis, the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, speaks to Marines with Marine Wing Support Group 27, May 6. Mattis explained how things in Iraq have gotten better since the first time Marines came to Iraq.