World Bulletin / News Desk
The head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Friday described Donald Trump’s pick to head the Pentagon, Gen. James Mattis, as “an inspirational leader”.
“He's highly respected across the ranks and so we all congratulate him,” Army Gen. John Nicholson said at a briefing in the Pentagon. “He's a soldier's soldier, a Marine's Marine. I'm sure that's what he would say.”
Nicholson said he first met Mattis in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan during a fight in 2006, adding that Mattis inspired him as a soldier.
The retired Marine Corps general last served as commander of Central Command -- the U.S. military command that overseas the Middle East -- from August 2010 to March 2013.
After meeting Mattis on Nov. 20, Trump tweeted he was “very impressive” and “a true General’s General”.
Mattis is referred to as "warrior monk" among his friends. He is also known as "mad dog Mattis”, a name he reportedly dislikes that was apparently born during a battle in Iraqi.
The Los Angeles Times in 2004 quoted Mattis saying to Marines: "That's why the good Lord made the earth. Dig to live," while watching his troops dig fighting holes during a battle with Iraqi insurgents.
Mattis believes Iran is a key threat to the stability of the Middle East.
“The Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East,” he said earlier this year during a panel discussion by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“For all the talk of ISIS and al-Qaida everywhere right now … they’re a very serious threat,” he said. “But nothing is as serious in the long term enduring ramifications, in terms of stability and prosperity and some hope for a better future for the young people out there, than Iran.”
He was reportedly fired by President Barack Obama for suggesting radical measures against Iran that included attacks on that country’s nuclear facilities.
Mattis retired from the military in 2013 and will require a congressional waiver to take over as America’s defense chief as the law stipulates a seven-year wait period before uniformed personnel can be appointed to the post.