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Mattis: What the Military Needs

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December 2, 2016
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General James Mattis was confirmed yesterday as President-Elect Donald Trump's pick for Secretary of Defense, in a move that has been widely hailed across social media by former members of the military, especially Marines.But what makes him such a great choice? Is it his exceptional record of combat awards? Is it his down-in-the-trenches approach to leadership? His willingness to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said? His massive book collection and sharp, analytical mind? Or is it his pithy sayings that have become Marine Corps axioms: "No better friend, no worse enemy," and "Be polite, be professional, and have a plan to kill everyone you meet?"[caption id="attachment_9092" align="aligncenter" width="640"]


Mattis in Afghanistan. Source: DoD[/caption]Absolutely. It's all of these things. But the reason why he is needed now as Secretary of Defense goes deeper than that.It's because he's someone that the troops can trust and respect after years of social engineering and unwanted cultural change.The last eight years of President Barack Obama's administration have seen an unprecedented number of fundamental changes to the military. Fortunately for the administration, soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen are duty-bound to follow whatever orders they are given. Thus, the troops have been forced to accept these changes with a shrug, a shake of the head and a left step forward.[caption id="attachment_9090" align="aligncenter" width="244"]


Source: Patriot Files[/caption]But in the opinion of many, these changes have come far too fast, over the protests of subject matter experts, and often have second and third-order effects. When the military becomes too politicized, its leadership creates an environment where other pointless changes can occur, due, perhaps, to subordinate secretaries trying to look in step with their bosses. This environment of progressive service secretaries bolstered by social-justice ideals creates a weaker force and completely erodes the military's morale, effectiveness and faith in its civilian leadership.


It started with something that most troops would now agree is fairly common sense: allowing gay and lesbian men and women to serve openly in the military. If you've served during the Global War on Terror era, you know that the 2011 repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell simply permitted people to live openly who had been there all along.[caption id="attachment_9093" align="aligncenter" width="2272"]


Mattis in Iraq, 2003. Source: Reddit[/caption]There is a basic justness here: these men and women are fully qualified in their jobs and their sexual orientation does not affect their performance. A gay man in the infantry can be just as physically powerful as a straight man, and can carry the same weight, ruck the same distance, and kill with his bare hands just as effectively as any heterosexual.This is an example of a cultural change that had been in the works for a very long ime and didn't have an adverse effect on readiness. But the succeeding years began to see social experiments where Secretaries appeared to want to cement their political legacy rather than shape an effective fighting force.Allowing women in all combat roles over the objections of the troops who actually serve in those roles became the main issue for Obama's civilian administration, but it wasn't the only one.[caption id="attachment_9089" align="aligncenter" width="720"]

This guy.

This guy.[/caption]The problem is, allowing women to serve in the infantry is not just a cultural change, but one that actually affects the ability to fight our enemies, who are not going to field women on the battlefield.Despite the massive objections of Marines, who even conducted a lengthy gender integration experiment to find hard data about women conducting infantry tasks, the item was pushed through. Despite not one single woman being able to pass the Marine Corps Infantry Officer Course. Despite special operations troops' objections. Despite General Dunford's recommendations and even General Mattis' words on the subject.Such a move erodes faith in civilian leadership and creates an environment where political correctness, not combat lethality, becomes the benchmark for Service Secretary success.[caption id="attachment_9087" align="aligncenter" width="1484"]


This survey was conducted before the decision to remove all barriers to women in combat arms jobs. Source: Washington Post[/caption]But it didn't stop there. Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, blatantly disregarded the expertise of troops who had served then, and did so again soon after, when he allowed the Navy to destroy its ratings system, titles which date back to the birth of the United States and further. This was a completely pointless morale-reducer which absolutely nobody in the Navy supported. He also named ships after people who had never served in the military and he is now a recurring joke in Duffel Blog articles.These are just a few examples of the gender-politics game that has been played with our fighting forces for the last eight years, which culminated in allowing transgender troops to serve openly and for Bradley Manning to get sex change surgery paid for by the military."Mad Dog" Mattis, on the other hand, is the antithesis of Obama-administration's socially conscious civilians who have been leading the military. He's always had a reputation for being blunt with his words and he enjoys a massive, cult-like following among the military. He opposed women in combat arms, like the vast majority of actual grunts, and he has read enough to glean historical context from whatever decisions he makes as Secretary of Defense.Sure, the military doesn't have to respect or even like its leadership, but it sure as hell helps morale if they do.He won't baby the troops, either, or let them see themselves as victims:

"There's no room for woe-is-me, for self-pity, or for cynicism" in the military, Mattis said. "Further, there is no room for military people, including our veterans, to see themselves as victims even if so many of our countrymen are prone to relish that role. In the military, we make choices. We're not victims."

In short, while Mattis may still give our soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen orders that they don't like or don't agree with, he will do so from a position of mutual respect, as someone who has literally been in the trenches.He is the Service Secretary that the troops desperately want-and the one they so desperately need.

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