On Thursday, TIME announced the “100 Most Influential People,” which included Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis along with 99 others. Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense under former President George W. Bush and former President Barack Obama, wrote the piece about Mattis in TIME.
“Jim Mattis is a worthy successor to the only previous general officer to serve as Secretary of Defense, General George C. Marshall,” Gates said. “Mattis shares Marshall’s deep knowledge of history, his strategic vision, his appreciation of both America’s national interests and its values, his tough-mindedness about policies and people, and his integrity. Like Marshall, Mattis is also unafraid to speak truth to power.”
Gates, who also served as Mattis’ boss during the second half of the Iraq war, commended the current Secretary of Defense for never “sugarcoating” the situation.
“As Secretary of Defense, I recommended Jim Mattis to take charge of both Joint Forces Command and Central Command,” Gates wrote. “His tasks were challenging: he had to dismantle the former, and he oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I never worried about him sugarcoating his message to me or others.”
“Finally, Jim Mattis loves the troops,” Gates continued. “He will do what is necessary to protect the country, and he will care for our men and women in uniform as if they were his own children.”
Mattis first enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1969 and retired in 2013 as one of the most beloved four star generals. In 2010, Mattis was appointed by President Obama to replace General David Petraeus as commander of the United States Central Command.