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Gen. James Mattis is Trump’s pick for Pentagon head

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he will nominate retired Gen. James Mattis to be his defense secretary

Published: Updated:

President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he will nominate retired Gen. James Mattis to be his defense secretary, making the announcement at a post-election victory rally in Cincinnati.

Mattis, 66, is a Marine Corps general who retired in 2013 after serving as the commander of the US Central Command.

His selection raises questions about increased military influence in a job designed to insure civilian control of the armed forces. The concerns revolve around whether a recently retired service member would rely more on military solutions to international problems, rather than take a broader, more diplomatic approach.

For Mattis to be confirmed, Congress would first have to approve legislation bypassing a law that bars retired military officers from becoming defense secretary within seven years of leaving active duty.

Mattis has a reputation as a battle-hardened, tough-talking Marine who was entrusted with some of the most challenging commands in the US military. In a tweet last month, Trump referred to Mattis by his nickname “Mad Dog” and described him as “A true General’s General!”