On Monday, Congressman Ruben Gallego from Arizona released a statement on his website saying that he does not support the nomination of General James Mattis as Secretary of Defense and will not get behind the waiver that is needed in order for him to take office. Senator McCain has agreed to draft the legislation needed that would grant Gen. Mattis a waiver of the seven-year gap required. Rep. Gallego, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq, says that while he “greatly admires” General James Mattis, he believes that the current law which enforces that if a nominee for the SECDEF position was a military officer they must be out of service for at least seven years is essential and needs to be enforced.
American Military News spoke to a Marine veteran who also served in Iraq like Congressman Gallego, as well as Afghanistan. The Marine vet, who wished to remain anonymous, understands Gallego’s take on the situation but says the need for civilian oversight should not distract from the fact General Mattis is the most qualified man for the job.
“While I understand the need for civilian oversight of the military, waivers exist for exactly this situation,” the Marine vet told AMN. “General Mattis is not a war mongering knuckle dragger, but rather a thoughtful and brilliant tactician, for whom the chief complaint was that he considered the long term consequences of military action instead of blindly following the desires of politicians. I can not imagine anyone more qualified, or more respected, to take such an important post.”
“As a fellow Marine, I greatly admire General James Mattis’ dedication and leadership,” Rep. Gallego wrote in his statement. “We all should be incredibly grateful for his many years of service to our nation.”
“As a veteran, I believe strongly in the principle of civilian leadership of the military. Current law requires that a military officer be out of active duty for at least seven years before taking the job of defense secretary. I do not believe this long-standing check should be cast aside, and I will oppose a waiver of this rule, even for someone as exceptionally qualified as General Mattis.”