Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, a decorated war-time commander considered a deity by many troops and veterans, is on the short-list to run the Pentagon in the Trump administration, according to media reports.
Mattis is meeting with President-Elect Donald Trump on Saturday, the Associated Press is reporting. Bloomberg reported Friday that Trump is looking at Mattis and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane as possible nominees for defense secretary.
If nominated, Mattis would need a waiver from Congress to become defense secretary because he has not been out of uniform for seven years, per Title 10 of the U.S. Code.It is possible Mattis is meeting with Trump to offer advice on who Trump should pick as defense secretary.
Mattis could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday. He spent 44 years in the Marine Corps and retired in 2013 after leading U.S. Central Command.
For service members, having Mattis serve as defense secretary could be a consolation prize of sorts. In a Military Times survey earlier this year, more than half of the 948 troops surveyed said they believed Mattis running for president would be a positive development.
But despite efforts this spring by disaffected Republicans to get him to run as a third party candidate, Mattis opted to stay out of the presidential race.
Now a fellow at the Hoover Institution in California, Mattis has launched a research project into how Americans view the military and he has spoken out about how little civilians understand about what the military does.
In September, he told Military Times that he is particularly concerned about civilian policy-makers making changes to the military to advance social policies.
"We are liable to find ourselves paying the cost on a battlefield that we do not want to pay," Mattis said. "There is no God-given right to victory on the battlefield. You win that through the skill and the devotion, the valor and the ferocity of your troops. You have to be very, very careful, I think, if this gap grows, and it surely will. We have to be very careful that we do not undercut the military battlefield effectiveness with shortsighted social programs."