Retired Marine Gen. James “Jim” Mattis has emerged as a strong candidate for secretary of defense, according to reports out of New York City.

The retired four-star general would need clearance from Congress beyond a normal confirmation hearing. He would also need a waiver from current Pentagon rules because has not been retired for seven years or more.

“I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.”

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Federal law mandates that former military service members need to be retired from active service for seven years or more. Mattis retired in 2013.

But Republican President-elect Donald Trump apparently does not want Mattis to get rusty in the interim.

The outspoken general, born in Washington State, has a plethora of experiences in the Marines, and served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. His military resume was so impressive, he was floated as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

He declined to run, but his experience has Trump seriously considering the general to run the Pentagon.

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Mattis is seen as being very experienced with Islamic terrorists and insurgents. He once told a group of surrendered Iraqi officers that if they messed with him, he would kill them all.

This is the Mattis mystique. It’s why his nickname is “Mad Dog.” It’s also why another nickname he has is the “warrior monk.”

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With Mattis, Trump supporters get an updated version of another four-star general, George Patton, the Army legend who helped drive the Germans out of North Africa, Sicily and France during WWII.

Patton was known for his salty language, his colorful rhetoric, and his occasionally politically incorrect behavior, such as slapping a soldier.

Mattis, 66, is far less controversial, but his quotes are just as compelling. According to the Daily Beast, Marines even have a Twitter hashtag for them: #Mattisisms.

Here are some classic Mattis quotes.

Afghanistan and Iraq

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway, so it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.” — A 2005 conference, according to the Daily Beast

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f**k with me, I’ll kill you all.” — To Iraqi officers, 2003, Task & Purpose


“Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” — To Marines in Iraq, 2003

“The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.” — San Diego Union-Tribune

“You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” — A letter to Marines

“You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad.” — San Diego Union-Tribune

“No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote.” — Defense News


“The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some (plural expletive) in the world that just need to be shot.” — To Marines in Iraq, circa 2003 to 2005, via Thomas Ricks

“Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact.” — San Diego Union-Tribune

“I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.” — Mattis to enemies, via San Diego Union-Tribune


“I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word.”  — San Diego Union-Tribune