Tough ex-general chosen as defence secretary

Mr Trump and Gen Mattis meeting at the Trump International Golf Club in New Jersey last month. Mr Trump called him "the closest thing to (World War II-era) General George Patton that we have".
Mr Trump and Gen Mattis meeting at the Trump International Golf Club in New Jersey last month. Mr Trump called him "the closest thing to (World War II-era) General George Patton that we have".PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

WASHINGTON • Retired general James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who for years oversaw United States war efforts in the Middle East, has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump as his defence secretary.

Gen Mattis, 66, commanded a Marine battalion during the First Gulf War and a Marine division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

In 2010, he was named head of the US Central Command, overseeing military operations in the Middle East and South-west Asia from 2010 to 2013.

The Obama administration cut his tour short, believing he was too hawkish on Iran.

Mr Trump announced the nomination on Thursday at his first post- election rally in Ohio, saying: "He's our best. They say he's the closest thing to (World War II-era) General George Patton that we have."

If confirmed by the Senate, he will be the first recently retired general to serve as Pentagon chief since General George Marshall in 1950.

Gen Mattis would need a special congressional waiver as under federal law, the Pentagon chief has to be out of uniform for seven years.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 03, 2016, with the headline 'Tough ex-general chosen as defence secretary'. Print Edition | Subscribe