If anyone can stir excitement in a group of U.S. Marines, it’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
Armed forces at Camp Titin caught wind of Mattis’ nearby presence at an international terrorism conference in Aqaba, Jordan, and couldn’t help containing their excitement.
One Marine in particular recounted his deployment in Afghanistan to a Breitbart reporter who was attending the same conference as Mattis. Mattis had been only feet away from the Marine, he recalled, delivering a memorable pep talk to his troops.
“Ask him if he has coins,” the Marine told the reporter, referring to the challenge coins senior defense leaders and commanders keep with them to hand out to troops as a token of their gratitude.
“They’re probably blocks of granite!” he joked, referencing Mattis’ tough reputation. “Tell him his Marines love him.”
However, when that message had been relayed to Mattis, the current defense secretary smiled and admitted that he didn’t have any coins, giving only one explanation, according to Breitbart.
“I’m saving money for bombs,” he said.
The response encapsulates Mattis’ recent role as defense secretary, where the former Marine has been nothing but focused on combat effectiveness while keeping to fiscal responsibility and maintaining a low profile in order to carry out the orders of President Donald Trump.
“Mattis sees his job as carrying out the president’s military priorities and that’s it,” said Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “He doesn’t see his job as making policy or ‘fixing’ President Trump’s agenda.”
Heinrichs suggests that, though different, Mattis and Trump hold largely to the same guiding principle when it comes to America’s defense.
“Mattis’s ‘taking our own side in the fight’ is Trump’s ‘putting America first,'” Heinrichs added. “How can we carry out our military objectives as efficiently and successfully as possible?”
That combat effectiveness seems to be working for both America and Mattis, who was confirmed by the Senate by an overwhelming 98-1 vote earlier this year.
Mattis himself has overseen the task of decimating the Islamic State group in both Iraq and Syria, with the terror group seemingly being taken out faster due to the newly implemented strategy where commanders on the ground make more decisions rather than getting approval from the White House.
Mattis praised the decision of the president earlier this year to allow this freedom on behalf of the deployed troops, which many claimed have sped up the war against the Islamic State militants.
The president, Mattis said, “delegated authority to the right level to aggressively and in a timely manner move against enemy vulnerabilities.”
Yet, even through his reputation for toughness on both his troops and enemies, Mattis remains a favorite among the administration, with Pentagon press secretary Dana White crediting Mattis’s laser-focused attitude.
“The secretary is a unique secretary of defense, as I’ve said many times,” White said. “He is focused on the warfighter, he is focused on all the things that need to be done.”
“He just has laser focus on his job,” she added. “And it’s about the warfighter … it’s never about him.”
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