Battle Rattle

“Mad Dog” Mattis to receive public service award

Bookmark and Share

Retired Gen. James Mattis, one of the most revered Marine Corps generals of this generation, will be presented with an award for tremendous public service on Monday night.

Retired Gen. James Mattis will be presented an award for public service by the  Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia on Monday night.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Released)

Retired Gen. James Mattis will be presented an award for public service by the
Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia on Monday night.
(Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Navy)

Mattis was named the 2013 recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service. He’ll be the ninth recipient to receive the award, which is sponsored by the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a Philadelphia-based think tank.

The general will be recognized for serving more than four decades in the Marine Corps, before retiring in May. He led the 1st Marine Division, during the initial invasion of Iraq and served as head of U.S. Joint Forces Command, as well as U.S. Central Command.

“With a reputation for candor, a career of combat achievements, and a library that once spanned 7,000 books, Gen. Mattis has a record of over 41 years of public service,” the institute’s news release states.  ”Modern military historians chronicle him as one of America’s great soldier-scholars.”

In addition to receiving the award, Mattis will also serve as the keynote speaker during the institute’s annual dinner. His address is titled, “Reflections of  a Combatant Commander in a Turbulent World.” More than 400 guests are expected to attend.

Prior recipients of the Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service include: Henry Kissinger, Charles Krauthammer and John Bolton.

“Mattisisms” — Gen. Mattis motivates from your computer

Bookmark and Share

You’ve heard some of the motivating remarks by Gen. James Mattis, but did you know about the memes floating around the Internet that showcase some of his best quotes?

Marines love Mattis, this we know. One launched a presidential campaign for the outgoing head of U.S. Central Command. And another got fired over having one of the “Warrior Monk’s” famous quotes tattooed on his arm.

Mattis simply motivates today’s generation of Marines, and that has spread to the digital sphere. So in honor of this week’s profile on Mattis, as he prepares to pass the CENTCOM torch to Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, we’ve rounded up some of the general’s colorful quotes that have been tailored to motivate you even as you sit at your computer.

One is a particularly excellent drawing of Mattis by illustrator Ammon Perry, whose work can be seen here. Perry sketched it in honor of the Marine Corps’ 236th birthday, and included the message Mattis delivered as commanding general of 1st Marine Division before the Iraq invasion: “Demonstrate to the world there is ‘No Better Friend — No Worse Enemy’ than a U.S. Marine.”

And be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Marine Corps Times for a full look at the dynamic career of Gen. James Mattis.

When Mattis said it: March 2003
Why he said it: This line closed the then-commanding general of 1st Marine Division’s all-hands message leading up to the invasion of Iraq.
(Courtesy of Ammon Perry/Ammon Perry Illustration)


When Mattis said it: Unclear, likely between 2003 and 2005
Why he said it: It was one of the rules then-Maj. Gen. Mattis gave his Marines in Iraq, as quoted in “Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq” by Thomas E. Ricks.

When Mattis said it: March 2013
Why he said it: While testifying in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Mattis was asked if Congress should boost funding for the State Department in the wake of a deadly terrorist attack on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya.

When Mattis said it: April 2010
Why he said it: Mattis was responding to the point being made by Pentagon officials that the military had become obsessed with PowerPoint slides. It followed a comment made by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was shown a slide on the Iraq War that was so complicated, he quipped that when they figured out how to read it, they’ll have won the war.

When Mattis said it: August 2006
Why he said it: In an interview with North County Times, Mattis was asked about the timeline of withdrawal from Iraq. He said the enemy shouldn’t know if a hard deadline was in sight, and that Marines would stay and continue to fight and protect no matter what was thrown in their paths.

Gen. James Mattis: ‘Now it’s time to go’

Bookmark and Share

Like no other officer in a generation, Gen. James Mattis has inspired those around him with his wisdom, candor and appreciation for rank-and-file U.S. service members. Now, he’s planning to retire, wrapping up a 41-year career in which he led Task Force 58 during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

I examine Mattis’ place in history in Marine Corps Times’ cover story this week. The story is currently available online on Marine Corps Times Prime.

Since 2010, the general known by the call sign “Chaos” has run U.S. Central Command, overseeing the war in Afghanistan and other U.S. military throughout the Middle East. He’s expected to be replaced by Army Gen. Lloyd Austin on March 22.

Mattis himself weighed in for the story, saying in an email that he prefers to end his career quietly.

“I’ve had some ‘riotous excursions of the human spirit’ alongside the young Sailors and Marines and it’s time to leave the stage to the young leaders who got their rank the old-fashioned way — they earned their stripes in combat,” he said. “The Corps is in good hands, and it’s been a privilege to serve with the Leathernecks. Now it’s time to go.”

We’ve got multiple anecdotes about Mattis that you’ve likely never heard before, thanks to interviews with Gen. John Kelly, Brig. Gen. Paul Kelly, Col. Mike Groen and others. A source also shared details about a closed-door all-hands meeting in which Mattis spoke at CENTCOM headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base on March 8.

Was there a new “Mattisism”? Of course there was.

Again, the story is online here.

Callout: Help us find the Marine behind the Mattis Christmas tale

Bookmark and Share

Marines love Gen. James Mattis so much that there’s even a special Christmas tale about the “warrior monk” that makes the rounds on the Internet each holiday season.

Gen. James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week. As Mattis prepares for retirement, we want Marines to tell us what it has been like to serve with the “warrior monk.” (Thomas Brown/Staff)

As the story goes, Mattis stepped in for a young Marine who had guard duty at Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., on Christmas Eve back in 1998. Mattis — then a one-star — is rumored to have told the Marine on duty to go home and spend the holiday with his family. Mattis took over and spent the night pulling guard duty.

Now, we know Marines love Mattis. We’ve seen a former grunt launch a presidential campaign in his name. Another former Marine even got fired for a tattoo he had honoring one of Mattis’ famous colorful quotes.

Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin is slated to take over as head of U.S. Central Command on March 22. But before Mattis goes, we want you to tell us your stories. Did you have the chance to serve directly with him? What was it like?

And help us find the Marine who is fabled to have gotten to spend Christmas Eve with his family because Mattis stepped in.

Share your experiences in the comments field, or email staff writer Gina Harkins at:

Colonel takes shots at PowerPoint, ISAF in new rant

Bookmark and Share

A military PowerPoint presentation in its natural habitat. (Photo by Greg Vojtko/Navy)

In April, a New York Times piece on the U.S. military’s PowerPoint culture generated a fair amount of buzz, especially considering it included a simple, cutting indictment from Gen. James Mattis, then-commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command: “PowerPoint makes us stupid.”

The military still relies heavily on PowerPoint presentations, however. And while that may never change, one Army colonel assigned to an International Security Assistance Force headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, has had enough. His brutal critique of military culture is burning up the Web today after being published by the UPI news service. An excerpt:

For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information. Even one tiny flaw in a slide can halt a general’s thought processes as abruptly as a computer system’s blue screen of death.
The ability to brief well is, therefore, a critical skill. It is important to note that skill in briefing resides in how you say it. It doesn’t matter so much what you say or even if you are speaking Klingon.
Random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer. Harried movement together with furrowed brows and appropriate expressions of concern a la Clint Eastwood will please the generals. Progress in the war is optional.

First things first: How long will the author, Col. Lawrence Sellin, have a job in Afghanistan. Does he even care? There’s nothing better than taking a verbal blow torch to your command publicly to punch an early ticket home, I suppose.

Fellow Military Times blogger Phil Ewing suggests on Scoop Deck that Sellin is “Burning down the PowerPoint palace,” which seems fair. Spencer Ackerman wonders on Danger Room if the momentum might be shifting, now that Mattis, the new head of U.S. Central Command, and a few other known PowerPoint haters have moved into positions of authority over the Afghanistan war.

Arlington burial of late general and Iwo Jima veteran to be star-studded affair

Bookmark and Share
Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes (Marine Corps)

Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes (Marine Corps)

Thursday morning, the Marine Corps will bury one of its own.

Retired Maj. Gen. Fred Haynes wasn’t just any Marine, though. As a captain, he served as an operations officer for Combat Team 28, participating in the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima that resulted in nearly 7,000 U.S. combat deaths. In 1967, he served as the top operations officer of Marine forces in Vietnam.

Haynes died in March, and will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery following a service at Arlington’s Fort Myer Old Post Chapel. The delay in his burial is likely the result of the time and resources it takes (think horse-drawn caisson) to bury someone with full military honors.

A copy of an informational brief about Haynes’ ceremony shows that good things come to those who wait. The ceremony will be a star-studded affair, with no fewer than three former commandants — retired Gens. Al Gray, Carl Mundy and James Jones — serving as honorary pall bearers. They will be joined by three members of the Haynes family, retired Lt. Gen. Ron Christmas (a Navy Cross recipient) and retired Col. Bill Rockey, a former battalion commander in Vietnam whose father, the late Maj. Gen. Keller Rockey, commanded Haynes’ division at Iwo Jima.

Other dignitaries expected to attend include Gen. James Mattis, the presumed next commander of U.S. Central Command, and Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. The eulogy will be delivered by retired Lt. Gen. Larry Snowden, who was a company commander during the assault on Iwo Jima.

For what it’s worth, Haynes co-authored a book, “The Lions of Iwo Jima,” that was released just last May. In a review, James Bradley, author of “Flags of Our Fathers,” said Haynes was the highest-ranking surviving officer from Combat Team 28.

Rest in peace, sir.