Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that he was impressed with the general’s “strategic insight and independent thinking.”
He is a bit of a surprising pick. On the one hand, Gen. Mattis has significant ground combat experience and is considered an intellectual who grasps the nuances of fighting a complicated counterinsurgency.
In 2005, Gen. Mattis was chastised by his superiors for saying in a public speech in San Diego that it was “fun to shoot some people.” Gen. Mattis was a three-star general at the time, stationed in Quantico, Va., when he told an audience that some Afghans deserved to die.
“Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight,” he said. “You know, it’s a hell of a hoot… . It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right upfront with you. I like brawling.”
He added, “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”
His comments evoked laughter and applause from the audience.
His boss at the time, Gen. Mike Hagee, said that the comments reflected the “unfortunate and harsh realities of war” but that Gen. Mattis had been asked to watch his words in public.
Mr. Gates said Thursday that appropriate action was taken at the time. He also said he raised the issue with Gen. Mattis when interviewing him for the job and was confident that such statements would not be made in the future.
“I think the subsequent five years have demonstrated that the lesson was learned,” he said.View Entire Story
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