Marine Officer: Mattis ‘Extremely Frugal’ with Soldiers’ Lives

Retired colonel says Trump's pick to lead Pentagon 'would much prefer to win without fighting'

Retired Marine Officer Stan Coerr spoke of his experience serving under Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis and praised him as a “strong” and “intellectually curious” leader who always way “extremely frugal with the wellbeing and lives of the people who work for him” during an interview Monday on “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

Mattis, President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of defense, is a retired four-star Marine Corps general who served as the commander of the U.S. Central Command. Coerr, an Iraq War veteran and author of “Rubicon: The Poetry of War,” first served under then-Col. Mattis in July 1994 as a young captain in the 7th Marine Regiment in California. During his time in Mattis’ regiment, Coerr was impressed by Mattis’ voracious appetite for reading and his genuine care and concern for the men and women who served under him.

“The way you become a strong leader is you read incessantly. You need to be intellectually curious.”

“Gen. Mattis is extremely frugal with the well-being and lives of people who work for him. And when you know that the guy at the very top — the very, very top — truly cares about you, that means a lot to you as a young soldier and a Marine,” Coerr told LifeZette Editor-in-Chief Laura Ingraham, adding that Mattis always understood “what it means when you go overseas, and particularly when you put young men and young women on the ground with boots in the dirt in some other country carrying a rifle.”

Although many Americans may think of Mattis primarily in terms of the “Mad Dog” memes circulating across the internet — which focus on his war-like toughness — Coerr offered a deeper and more nuanced insight into Mattis’ leadership style and character.

“This whole ‘Mad Dog’ thing … that is not who this guy is. He is the last person who would want to send young Americans into harm’s way,” Coerr said. “He understands what it looks like, sounds like, feels like when you do that.”

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“He would much prefer to win without fighting, which is of course the ‘acme of skill,’ according to Sun-Tzu, who Gen. Mattis, of course, has read,” Coerr added. “He does not want to fight. He does not want to intervene. But, if we’re going to intervene, we’re going to go full-throttle, as Gen. [Colin] Powell said many years ago. You go there, you win, and then you come home. And Gen. Mattis is that sort of leader.”

When Ingraham asked Coerr to comment on the nature of true leadership, Coerr pointed to Mattis’ thirst for knowledge and his love of books. Noting that Mattis was “astonishingly well-read” and was an “autodidact with a library of about 8,000 books,” Coerr said that Mattis’ reading informed his decisions.

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“The way you become a strong leader is you read incessantly. You need to be intellectually curious,” Coerr said. “Gen. Mattis has said that he has never come across a situation he did not know how to address because of how much he had read. No matter which situation he came across — whether it was a political event or there was dealing with subordinates or commanders or whether it was dealing with people who did not speak his language, going into a foreign country with an armed force — someone else had done it before, and he had read that book, most likely.”

As the American people, the media, and the Washington Establishment continue to mull over Trump’s choice of Mattis for secretary of defense, Coerr urged them all to remember how “geopolitically savvy” Mattis is.

“And that comes from having been commander of Central Command — it’s the largest operational command in the world. He was responsible for hundreds of thousands of people on board ship[s], below the ocean, in aircraft, standing on the ground — over 20 plus countries in bad nations of the world,” Coerr said. “And just like I said when he was a two-star [general], we knew that he was not going to be extravagant with our lives and our well-being. And when he was a four-star, people felt the same way. This is why across the Department of Defense and all the services, people respect and admire this man because they know that he gets it. They know that he understands.”

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