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

Trump's Former Defense Secretary Says Whistleblower Probe Just A 'Raucous' Period For U.S. Democracy

featuring General Jim Mattisvia CBC News (Canada)
Friday, September 27, 2019

Former U.S. defense secretary James Mattis says the whistleblower complaint threatening U.S. President Donald Trump with impeachment is the "normal heave and ho of democracies." "Democracies go through raucous periods and you see some of that going on right now — and by the way, you see it going on in Germany and France and the United Kingdom especially, and certainly very much so here in Washington, D.C., right now," said Mattis, who served as Trump's secretary of defense from January 2017 to December 2018, but resigned over a series of policy disagreements with the president.

In the News

Jim Mattis And The Duty Of Reserve

featuring General Jim Mattisvia The Atlantic
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Before serving and then resigning as secretary of defense in the Trump administration, Jim Mattis was a general in the U.S. Marine Corps.

General James Mattis On His New Best-Seller, “Call Sign Chaos”

interview with General Jim Mattisvia Hugh Hewitt
Thursday, September 26, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow James Mattis discusses his time in the military as well as his new book Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.

In the News

If China Believes The US Has Grown Soft, Its Military Leaders Should Read James Mattis’ Book

featuring General Jim Mattisvia South China Morning Post
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Trump’s former defence secretary has co-authored a narrative that, in detailing the philosophy and capabilities of the US marines, reveals a willingness within the military establishment to take the fight to the enemy. China should take note.

In the News

The Ever-Quotable Jim Mattis: The Wit And Wisdom Of A Wizened Warrior

featuring General Jim Mattisvia The Washington Examiner
Monday, September 23, 2019

Before he was President Trump’s surprise pick for defense secretary, Jim Mattis was a retired Marine general, leisurely writing a book about the leadership lessons he learned in the course of a legendary 43-year career. The result, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, written with Bing West, was a disappointment to readers hoping for dirt on Trump but a treasure trove of the type of truisms for which Mattis is famous.


'Coherent Strategy' With Allies Needed On Iran: Former Defense Secretary Mattis

interview with General Jim Mattisvia ABC News
Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow James Mattis discusses Iran, US allies, and his new book Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead.

In the News

'Call Sign Chaos': Gen. James Mattis' New Book Is A Must-Read

featuring General Jim Mattisvia UPI
Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Former U.S. Defense Secretary retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, with Francis ("Bing") West, authored a remarkable book on leadership applicable well beyond the frontiers of military service. Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead is a modern-day equivalent of Marcus Aurelius' Emperor's Handbook.


Event Recap: Secretary Of Defense James Mattis

interview with General Jim Mattisvia The Richard Nixon Foundation
Monday, September 16, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow James Mattis discusses his recent book Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, and much more.

In the News

Call Sign Chaos: Leading From The Front

featuring General Jim Mattisvia Daily Times
Monday, September 16, 2019

Former U.S. Defense Secretary, retired Marine General James Mattis, with Francis (“Bing”) West, authored a remarkable book on leadership applicable well beyond the frontiers of military service. Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead is a modern day equivalent of Marcus Aurelius’ Emperor’s Handbook. CHAOS, Mattis’ Marine Corps call sign, arose from an irreverent compliment for “colonel has another outstanding solution” made by his staff. I have had the good fortune of knowing both authors.

In the News

'Arrogance': Mattis Co-Author Bing West Says US Efforts To Transform Iraq And Afghanistan Were Doomed

featuring General Jim Mattisvia The Washington Examiner
Sunday, September 15, 2019

When Henry Kissinger told James Mattis he should write a book about his more than four decades in the Marine Corps, it was no surprise he chose fellow Marine Bing West to help him. West, 79, the author of 10 books about combat, had known Mattis for nearly two decades by the time he was tapped to be the co-author of Call Sign Chaos, a memoir which weaves leadership lessons with Mattis' experiences in the military.