President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be his secretary of defense, The Washington Post reported Thursday. Mattis is respected in the field and has a reputation for strong, aggressive thinking, and like Trump favors a more adversarial stance against potential enemies abroad.
In April, Mattis singled out Iran as being the "single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East," and said American influence in the region is the least it's been in 40 years. He led a key Marine raid in Afghanistan against the Taliban in 2001, and commanded a division of Marines during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. “The president-elect is smart to think about putting someone as respected as Jim Mattis in this role,” a former senior Pentagon official told the Post. "For Mattis, the biggest risk for him personally is that he'll have a national security adviser in the form of Mike Flynn whose management style and extreme views may arch Mattis' eyebrows and cause conflict over time. It's no fun to be secretary of defense if you have to constantly feud with the White House."
Mattis retired in early 2013 after serving for more than four decades. Because he left active military service less than seven years ago, Congress will need to grant Mattis an exception to a federal law that requires defense secretaries be more than seven years removed from active duty.
An official announcement could come as soon as next week. Representatives for both Trump and Mattis declined to comment to the Post.