President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he has chosen retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, who has said that responding to ”political Islam” is the major security issue facing the United States, to be secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post.
”We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense,” Trump told a rally in Cincinnati, the first stop on a post-election ”thank-you tour,” The Washington Post reported.
Trump joked that the media and audience should keep the news to themselves.
”We are going to be announcing him Monday of next week,” Trump said. ”Keep it inside the room.”
Mattis, 66, served more than four decades in the Marine Corps and is known as one of the most influential military leaders of his generation, a strategic thinker who occasionally drew rebukes for his aggressive talk. Since retiring, he has served as a consultant and as a visiting fellow with the Hoover Institution, a think tank at Stanford University.
Like Trump, Mattis favors a tougher stance against U.S. adversaries abroad, especially Iran. The general, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in April, said that while security discussions often focus on terrorist groups such as the Islamic State or al-Qaeda, the Iranian regime is ”the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”
To take the job, Mattis will need Congress to pass legislation to bypass a federal law stating that defense secretaries must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has granted a similar exemption just once, when Gen. George C. Marshall was appointed to the job in 1950.
Earlier Thursday, Jason Miller, a spokesman with the Trump transition team, tweeted that no decision had been made, but Trump`s son Donald Jr. retweeted a report saying that Mattis got the job.