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The New Arab

Trump picks James 'Mad Dog' Mattis for defence secretary

In 2005, Mattis described in some detail why he thinks shooting people is fun [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2016

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Donald Trump on Thursday nominated retired general James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who's said it's fun to shoot people and oversaw US wars in the Middle East, for defence secretary.

Donald Trump on Thursday announced that he is nominating retired general James "Mad Dog" Mattis, who for years oversaw US wars in the Middle East, for the position of defence secretary.

Speaking at a post-election victory rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, Trump said "We are going to appoint 'Mad Dog' Mattis as our secretary of defence," referring to the four-star general by his nickname.

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

He was criticised for remarking in 2005 that he enjoyed shooting people.

During a panel discussion in San Diego, California in 2005, Mattis said: "Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight. You know, it's a hell of a hoot. ... It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up front with you, I like brawling."

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them," he continued.

Mattis also came under scrutiny during one of the more high-profile criminal investigations of the Iraq war, the shooting deaths of 24 Iraqis by Marines.

Marines in the town of Haditha killed the Iraqis, who included unarmed women and children, after a roadside bomb killed one of their comrades.

Eight Marines were charged in connection with the killings — four enlisted men were charged with unpremeditated murder and four officers who weren't there at the time were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths.

As commander of the accused Marines' parent unit, the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Mattis ultimately dismissed charges against most of the Marines.

Like Michael Flynn, Trump's choice as national security adviser, Mattis has been highly critical of the multination agreement reached last year with Iran to curtail its nuclear programme.

But to serve as defence secretary, Mattis would need a waiver of a law that bans uniformed military officers from serving in that post for seven years after leaving active duty.

The law is intended to ensure the bedrock notion of civilian control of the nation's military.

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