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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

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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.

President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence pose for photographes with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as he arrives at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP)
President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence pose for photographes with retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as he arrives at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP)

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!”