Armed Forces

Featured Member of the Armed Forces for Prayer

James Mattis, Secretary of Defense

James Norman Mattis was born in September 1950 in Pulman, Washington. He grew up in Richland, Washington, and graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in history. He was a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) student and received his second lieutenant commission upon graduation.

During his service years, Mattis was considered to be an intellectual among the upper ranks, with a personal library that once contained thousands of books. He served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander, and later, as a captain was assigned as the Naval Academy Preparatory School’s Battalion Officer. As a major, he was assigned to a recruiting station in Portland, Oregon.

Upon promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel, Mattis commanded one of the assault battalions during the Arab Gulf War. As a colonel and later brigadier general, he was involved in the War in Afghanistan. While a major general, he commanded the 1st Marine Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent operations during the Iraq War. After promotion to lieutenant general, Mattis commanded the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and later he took command of the Marine Expeditionary Force based out of Camp Pendleton.

In 2007, President George W. Bush nominated Mattis for appointment to the rank of general to command the U.S. Joint Forces Command, and NATO appointed him as Supreme Allied Commander. Three years later, he was named Commander of United States Central Command, and formally nominated to that post by President Barack H. Obama. He retired from the Marine Corps on 2013.

Since retirement, Mattis has worked as a consultant and member of the General Dynamics Board of Directors. He became an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution and has received other honors. He also wrote a book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.

Mattis was nominated as Secretary of Defense by President Donald J. Trump. A seven-year waiting period was waived, and he was officially confirmed by the Senate by a 98-1 vote on January 20, 2017.

Mattis is a lifelong bachelor, who has never been married and has no children. He was nicknamed “The Warrior Monk” because of his bachelor life and devotion to the study of war. His “Mad Dog” nickname was, he said during his confirmation hearings, “given to me by the press, and some of you may have experienced similar occasions with the press where perhaps they didn’t get it quite right.”


The goal of Defense Secretary James Mattis's six-month postponement of transgender enlistment is to give the U.S. Joint Chiefs more time to assess the impact of President Obama's ruling allowing individuals who self-identify with the opposite gender to openly serve in the armed forces. Historically, the armed forces automatically discharged all such military personnel for what was then termed “gender dysphoria.”