With the recent departure of General Michael Flynn, under suspicious of misleading or outright lying to the Vice President, and under accusations by the media of being a Russian operative, it’s important to re-examine the leadership at the helm of our National Security and Defense. At the helm, we still have General James Mattis at Department of Defense and General John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security. What is more important to note, other than two generals still guiding the President’s main focus, is that they are men of quality.
General John F. Kelly was a subordinate to General Mattis when they served in Iraq. In 2003, then Assistant Division Commander under General Mattis, John F. Kelly earned the distinction to be the first officer to be promoted to Brigadier General on the battlefield since the Korean War. General Kelly also knows the price of battle, having buried his own son after he was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. Rather than give a mournful eulogy, General Kelly took the opportunity to try and express support for his fellow Marines’ struggle on the battlefield, but also express frustration and anger at DC and the media’s treatment of the wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At a speech he gave in St. Louis to give honor on Veteran’s Day in 2011, an impassioned General Kelly expressed sentiment that I have heard many friends who have fought overseas express:
“Yes, we are at war, and are winning, but you wouldn’t know it because successes go unreported, and only when something does go sufficiently or is sufficiently controversial, it is highlighted by the media elite that then sets up the “know it all” chattering class to offer their endless criticism. These self-proclaimed experts always seem to know better-but have never themselves been in the arena. We are at war and like it or not, that is a fact. It is not Bush’s war, and it is not Obama’s war, it is our war and we can’t run away from it. Even if we wanted to surrender, there is no one to surrender to. Our enemy is savage, offers absolutely no quarter, and has a single focus and that is either kill every one of us here at home, or enslave us with a sick form of extremism that serves no God or purpose that decent men and women could ever grasp.”
As for General James Mattis, what makes him stand out? At the 2014 Marine Corps University Foundation Semper Fidelis Award Dinner, Mattis gave a speech that many say define his character and why he was a leader many Marines came to respect.
“Those are the Marines who define our Corps. A Corps whose old-fashioned values protect a progressive country. Marines who can do the necessary “rough work”, but without becoming evil by doing so, despite an enemy who has opened apocalyptically the aperture for who they target, to include even women and children. It’s all the more important today that we hold to our precious legacy of ferocious, ethical combat performance. For in a world awash in change, Americans need to have confidence in the everlasting character of our Marines. And to those Maniacs, the ones who thought that by hurting us on 9-11 that they could scare us, we have proven that the descendants of Belleau Wood, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Chosin, Hue City & more, we don’t scare. And we proved it in Fallujah & Ramadi and in the Helmand, Where foes who had never reasoned their way into their medieval views and could not be reasoned out – found that American Marines could fight like the dickens. And for the enemy it proved to be their longest and worst day against us.”
When you read these words, it isn’t surprising that Donald Trump, or any President, would select General Mattis as Secretary of Defense and General Kelly as Secretary of Homeland Security. These men understand not only the price paid in blood by the young men they commanded, but by the generations that came before them. But it also becomes obvious why in a strongly partisan time, General Mattis was confirmed by the Senate 98-1 and General Kelly was confirmed by the Senate 88-11. The fact their leadership inspired political unity should be a moment of hope for all Americans.
In a country where many are worried, about the leadership of our country and if it will hold stability in the world, it is important to remember that strong men of character have been accepted to hold positions of leadership. It is important to remember that we aren’t completely held to the whims of the President. As General Mattis said, “So long as our Corps fields such Marines, America has nothing to fear from tyrants, be they Fascists, Communists or Tyrants with Medieval Ideology.”