General Jim Mattis

Davies Family Distinguished Fellow

General Jim Mattis, US Marine Corps (Ret.), is the Davies Family Distinguished Fellow, after having served as the nation’s 26th Secretary of Defense in the administration.

In December of 2016, President Donald J. Trump nominated Mattis for Secretary of Defense and he was confirmed a month later. Mattis left Hoover to apply his knowledge and experience to help the President shape his national defense policy.

General Mattis commanded at multiple levels in his forty-three year career as an infantry Marine. As a lieutenant in the western Pacific, he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander in the Third Marine Division. As a captain in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, he commanded a rifle company and a weapons company in the First Marine Brigade. As a major he was the battalion officer at the Naval Academy Prep School and commanded Marine recruiters in the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii. As a lieutenant colonel he commanded an assault battalion breaching the Iraqi minefields in Operation Desert Storm. As a colonel he commanded 7th Marine Regiment and, on Pentagon duty, he served as the Department of Defense Executive Secretary. As a brigadier general he was the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Following 9-11 he commanded the First Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Naval Task Force 58 in operations against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the First Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq. In his first tour as a lieutenant general, he was in charge of Marine Corps Combat Development at Quantico and subsequently served as Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force/Commander, U.S. Marine Forces in the Middle East. As a general he served concurrently as the Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation.

Before retiring in 2013 he was the Commander of U.S. Central Command, directing military operations of over 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines and allied forces across the Middle East. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, and the co-editor of the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military.

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Recent Commentary

In the News

‘Listen And Then Learn.’ Mattis Tells Tri-Citians About Leadership In The Time Of Covid-19

featuring General Jim Mattisvia Tri-City Herald
Thursday, June 18, 2020

Leaders need to act with honesty, empathy and decisiveness in times of crisis, Retired Gen. Jim Mattis told a virtual crowd of Tri-Citians and beyond on Thursday.

In the News

Mattis To Talk About Leadership In Times Of Crisis At Online Tri-Cities Meeting

featuring General Jim Mattisvia Tri-City Herald
Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Gen. Jim Mattis will be giving a Zoom talk to the Columbia Basin Badger Club this week about leadership during crisis. The former U.S. Secretary of Defense will speak from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at an online Columbia Basin Badger Club meeting.

In the News

James Mattis: Leadership In Times Of Crisis

featuring General Jim Mattisvia Tri-City Herald
Monday, June 15, 2020

President John F. Kennedy once wrote, “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” Today, our world and our nation face a time of crisis unparalleled in most of our lifetimes.


In Union There Is Strength

by General Jim Mattisvia Hoover Daily Report
Wednesday, June 3, 2020

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words ‘Equal Justice Under Law’ are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.


Let’s Honor The Fallen By Protecting Our Fragile Experiment In Democracy

by General Jim Mattisvia The Washington Post
Sunday, May 24, 2020

On Memorial Day this year, we may be keeping social distance from one another, but that cannot detract from the sense of closeness, the sense of community and the sense of shared sacrifice that we feel for one another on a day when we come face-to-face with the human cost of freedom.

Jim Mattis on Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead

interview with General Jim Mattisvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Call Sign Chaos is Jim Mattis’s memoir of his lifelong journey from marine recruit to four-star general and secretary of defense. It’s also the story of his quest to learn from every experience and pass on those lessons, so that future generations can plan better, lead better, and do and be better, thus creating a safer and more successful United States and world.

In the News

“You Need To Talk To People That Have Been There": James Mattis Makes Virtual Class Visit

featuring General Jim Mattisvia Carnegie Mellon University Institute for Politics and Strategy
Friday, May 1, 2020

On the Saturday morning after he was sworn in as Secretary of Defense, James Mattis arrived at the Pentagon. The retired Marine four-star general met with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Vice Chairman, and the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Stanford Oval
In the News

Why Stanford: To The Contrarians Of 2024

mentioning Hoover Institution, Victor Davis Hanson, General Jim Mattis, H. R. McMaster, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Condoleezza Ricevia Stanford Review
Wednesday, April 22, 2020

We were all ProFros once: excited and more than a little anxious about what Stanford would bring. But high school seniors today are in a more bizarre predicament, as they sort-of-graduate, not-quite visit campuses, and choose a university for the to-be-determined Fall.

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“It’s Hard Work, Building A Country”

by General Jim Mattisvia Hoover Digest
Monday, April 20, 2020

In American public life, Hoover fellow Jim Mattis reminds us, disagreement is forgivable but despair is not.

In the News

Gen. James Mattis Has A Message For You About Small Businesses During The Wuhan Coronavirus Pandemic

featuring General Jim Mattisvia Townhall
Monday, March 30, 2020

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis made an appearance in his hometown's local public service announcement to offer words of encouragement and to ask people to help support small businesses during the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic.