Secretary of Defense James Mattis has traded his uniform for a suit, and now he is letting people know that he is also ditching his ‘Mad Dog’ moniker.
His commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump, appears to have gotten the message, at least for the moment, referring to the top civilian military official as ‘James’ during a discussion of torture at the White House.
Later, at the Pentagon, Trump called Mattis, a retired Marine general, a ‘man of honor,’ but didn’t try to stick him with a shorter label.
‘I’d like to first congratulate Gen. James Mattis, now Secretary Mattis,’ Trump said when he gave remarks. ‘Secretary Mattis has devoted his life to serving his country. He’s a man of honor, a man of devotion, and a man of total action. He likes action!’
Mattis earned the nickname while serving in the Marines. But now, his position represents the control that civilian authorities maintain over the military – although it required a special waiver for him to qualify, having served in the military within the last seven years.
A New York Times story Friday made Mattis’ preference known.
Trump and Mattis ‘appear to have some positive chemistry,’ the paper observed, noting they could be seen chatting during the inaugural parade.
‘CALL ME JIM’: Retired Gen. James Mattis, the new secretary of defense, has let it be known that he doesn’t want to be called by his nickname, ‘Mad Dog’
‘The new commander-in-chief relishes referring to ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis at every opportunity, even though the retired general does not like that nickname and insists it is no more than a media invention,’ the paper wrote.
Mattis visited with reporters who cover the Pentagon on Thursday.
He told them ‘he likes to be called Jim,’ wrote Andrew deGrandpre on Twitter. ‘Enough of this Mad Dog business.’
The message appears to have been received by the commander in chief.
Trump referred to him as ‘James Mattis’ during a White House press conference Friday.
‘We have a great general who has just been appointed secretary of defense – General James Mattis,’ Trump said.
Trump introduced the new Defense secretary as ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis at a rally in North Carolina late last year
He noted that Mattis has ‘stated publicly that he does not necessarily believe in torture or waterboarding or however you want to define it, enhanced interrogation.’
In another sign of the esteem in which he holds Mattis, Trump continued: ‘i don’t necessarily agree, but I would tell you that he will override because I’m giving him that power. He is an expert. He is the general’s general.
When Trump introduced Mattis to a crowd at a rally in North Carolina December 1, 2016, he said: ‘We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense,’ roaring out the name with enthusiasm.
His other nicknames are The Warrior Monk and Chaos. He picked up the ‘Mad Dog’ moniker after the Battle of Fallujah in Iraq, CNN reported.