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Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he has been impressed watching Gen. Mattis interact with NATO allies, most recently as Gen. Mattis served as head of U.S. Joint Forces Command.

In 2004, Gen. Mattis‘ Marine division led the assault on Fallujah and he played a key role in helping Iraqi security forces negotiate with insurgents inside the city.

His remarks at the time of the battle suggest his thinking is very much in line with the counterinsurgency strategy pursued by Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal, which restricts military operations in order to win the support of the local population.

“All along we had intended a softer approach, using civil-military operations… unless someone chooses to fight, and then we would fight,” Gen. Mattis said in 2004. “Welcome to war with all its complexities and shifting centers of gravity.”