James Norman Mattis (born September 8, 1950) is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general who served as the 26th US secretary of defense from January 2017 to January 2019. During his 44 years in the Marine Corps, he commanded forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
Mattis was commissioned in the Marine Corps through the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps after graduating from Central Washington University. A career Marine, he gained a reputation among his peers for intellectualism and eventually advanced to the rank of general. From 2007 to 2010, he commanded the United States Joint Forces Command and concurrently served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He was commander of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, with Admiral Bob Harward serving as his deputy commander. After retiring from the military, he served in several private sector roles, including as a board member of Theranos.
Mattis was nominated as secretary of defense by president-elect Donald Trump, and confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2017. As secretary of defense, Mattis affirmed the United States' commitment to defending longtime ally South Korea in the wake of the 2017 North Korea crisis. An opponent of proposed collaboration with China and Russia, Mattis stressed what he saw as their "threat to the American-led world order". Mattis occasionally voiced his disagreement with certain Trump administration policies such as the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, withdrawals of troops from Syria and Afghanistan, and budget cuts hampering the ability to monitor the impacts of climate change. According to The Hill, Mattis also reportedly dissuaded Trump from attempting to assassinate Bashar al-Assad, the President of Syria.
On December 20, 2018, after failing to convince Trump to reconsider his decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria, Mattis announced his resignation effective the end of February 2019; after Mattis's resignation generated significant media coverage, Trump abruptly accelerated Mattis' departure date to January 1, 2019, stating that he had essentially fired Mattis.