The Mattis ouster discussion

| January 26, 2013

Several of you sent us links to articles about the Obama Administration ingraciously dismissing Marine Corps General James Mattis, most of the links went back to Thomas Ricks’ article in Foreign Policy magazine. If it was anyone else, I’d probably believe the story, but it’s not, it’s Ricks, the same guy who wants to bring back the draft and brags about the firefights that he’s “covered” (not witnessed, covered). I get the sense that Ricks is also wrong on this story, regardless of how much I want it to be true;

I am told that General Mattis was traveling and in a meeting when an aide passed him a note telling him that the Pentagon had announced his replacement as head of Central Command. It was news to him — he hadn’t received a phone call or a heads-up from anyone at the Pentagon or the White House.

The White House wrote back to Ricks and told him that Mattis had been in a discussion with them over who his replacement would be, I’d tend to believe that. Not because the White House is particularly honest, but rather because Mattis is known as a “mad dog” and wouldn’t hold his tongue if he thought he was being screwed.

The disagreement that was supposed to trigger Mattis’ dismissal was that he pressed the National Security Council on “what ifs” in regards to Iran. That doesn’t sound like a particularly heinous crime that would get a war-planner of Mattis’ reputation fired.

Ricks updates his article this morning;

The Mattis-Donilon disagreements weren’t just about Iran. Other issues on which Mattis was pushing the White House to think deeper and harder, I am told, were “Afghanistan, concerns about Pakistani stability, [and] response to the Arab spring.”

The mishandling of Mattis is a larger part of an attempt by Donilon to centralize foreign policy making in his office, with DOD and State as implementers. My guess is that this is doomed.

The Marines are watching this intensely, but the other services also are taking note. The careerist generals will take the lesson that go along gets along. The duty-before-career guys will either go to ground or leave. Hence this incident likely will be a factor in shaping the character of the general officer corps for several years.

Like I said, I trust Ricks as far as I could toss his ample ass. I seriously don’t see a story here, and I may wrong. But it looks to me like Ricks is just trying to justify his Pulitzer.

Category: Military issues

Comments (8)

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  1. Devtun says:

    Typically, CENTCOM chiefs rotated out at 3 yr mark. Gen Mattis succeeded GEN Petraeus in Aug 2010…his 3 yr mark is this Aug. GEN Abizaid I believe has the longest tenure staying on almost 4 yrs. For whatever rhyme or reason, sometimes a COCOM is occasionally requested to vacate his post ahead of schedule (either dissatisfication by WH/SECDEF or administration desperately needs a vacant post to put a rising star ADM/GEN). Stuff happens…hazard of being GOFO is your expected to retire immediately – no questions asked.

  2. streetsweeper says:

    You might believe the numbers of times I’ve been reprimanded by others for not going along with this rumor.

  3. DaveO says:

    This comes across as merely further evidence of the lack of class by Obama. General Mattis is not Commandant Archibald Henderson – being a Marine general is not a forever appointment.

    As for the careerist generals: until Obama changes how officers are selected for promotion (in the Army, it is by DA photo from Captain to Colonel, and by who your mentor is for BG and MG), Donilon will simply get more of the same.

  4. Devtun says:

    GEN Lloyd Austin the Army Vice Chief, was announced in Dec that he would be nominated for CENTCOM. Gen Mattis will be retired by this summer.

  5. FatCircles0311 says:

    In today’s military climate Chesty Puller would have never been commissioned at all. “Take me to the Brig. I want to see the real Marines.” today would have resulted in court marshal of unbecoming.

    Mattis, you son of a bitch. You’re too awesome for the Corps any longer.

  6. HMCS(FMF) says:

    I was assigned to the 7th Marines when GEN Mattis was its CO – he was never afraid to speak the truth, and put the fear of God in those that he thought were bullshitters. On his Conference Room wall was a map of the Korean Peninsula with arrows on it… and a photo of his adversary (some COL in the NK army) that he would likely be fighting against. GEN Mattis made it perfectly clear to all in the room that he planned to “kick that son of a bitches ass” if we had to go fight there.

    The USMC will be missing him when he leaves… and there will be nobody to replace him anytime soon.

  7. USMCE8Ret says:

    @6 – I, too have had the opportunity and privledge to serve with Gen Mattis. He certainly doesn’t put up with any B.S., and you don’t want to be in his cross-hairs. (You almost felt bad for people who were.) He knows history, tactics, and has an extraordinary instinct of predicting what the enemy is doing, how they think, and what they’re up to. He studies them, their history, culture and tactics.

    More importantly, he likes to brawl and fight. He’s no warrior hermit, as some like to say.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and say whatever predictions or observations he’s made about our enemies will likely come true, but those in DC and elsewhere just don’t want to listen.

  8. Just Plain Jason says:

    1)His knife hand gave Hillary her concussion.
    2)Mattis 2016!