Jim Mattis (2017-2018)

Jim Mattis (2017-2018)

James Norman Mattis served as the 26th Secretary of Defense from January 2017 until December 2018 in the administration of President Donald Trump.

Mattis was born in Pullman, Washington, on September 8, 1950, and raised in Richland, Washington. He attended Central Washington University and graduated in 1971 with a BA in history. He later received his MA in international security affairs from the National War College of the National Defense University.

While in college, Mattis enlisted in the US Marines through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corp (ROTC) program, and he was commissioned a second lieutenant after graduation. He served in the Marines for more than 40 years. His military career included tours in the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, and the Iraq War. He was head of the United States Joint Command from 2007-2010 and of the United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013. He retired from the Marines that year. He then became a distinguished visiting fellow of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. He is the co-editor of Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military (2016).

President Donald Trump nominated Mattis to be secretary of Defense, and the US Senate confirmed him on January 20, 2017. His appointment required a special waiver because the National Security Act of 1947 requires a 7-year waiting period before military officers can serve as secretary of Defense; Mattis had only been retired three years. The law was designed to provide separation between the military and the civilian oversight of the Department of Defense.

Secretary Mattis focused on defeating ISIS, negotiating with North Korea to prevent its development of nuclear weapons, and stabilizing Afghanistan and the Middle East. During his long career in the Marines, Mattis had developed a reputation for being dedicated to his job and his country, and having deep background in military history and national security issues. He provided professionalism and maturity to an administration that was often unpredictable. Mattis resigned after President Trump announced that US troops would be withdrawn from Syria, a decision that Mattis did not support. He left the Defense Department on December 31, 2018.