Donald Trump made a major announcement at his Victory Rally in Cincinnati, Ohio on December 1: He is naming General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as defense secretary.
Several times, Trump referred to Mattis by his nickname. This is how Trump referred to Mattis to the Ohio crowd: “We are going to appoint Mad Dog Mattis as our secretary of defense.”
That has some wondering: Why is four-star general Mattis called “Mad Dog”? (He actually has two other nicknames: The Warrior Monk and Chaos).
CNN said that Mattis, a retired Marine general, earned his Mad Dog nickname “after the 2004 battle of Fallujah in Iraq, where he led British and American troops against Iraqi insurgents.”
The Sun said Mattis earned the Mad Dog moniker during “one of the hardest-fought campaigns following the Iraq invasion in 2003 — where he was one of four Commanders leading the British/US troops to take the city from Iraqi insurgents after the fall of Saddam Hussein.”
His colorful quotes have also reinforced the nickname. NBC said Mattis doesn’t like the “Mad Dog” nickname.
Among Mattis’ quotes, according to Vox: “It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot” Taliban fighters, and, to Iraqi leaders: “If you f-ck with me, I’ll kill you all.” However, Vox also describes Mattis as a “serious strategic thinker who is widely respected inside and outside of the Pentagon for his intellect” and willingness to buck the White House when he thinks it’s necessary. Slate magazine describes his nuanced approach to Iraq, from telling his soldiers to respect the heads of households to asking them to wear mustaches.
He also has said, “No better friend, no worse enemy” and “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”
NBC quoted Mattis as saying, “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 also said he liked “brawling,” according to NBC.
He clashed with the Obama administration over Iran.
According to CNN, Mattis actually has a second nickname too: Warrior Monk. That’s because of his love of reading about military history, the network said. The nickname also comes from the fact that Mattis is a life-long bachelor who has no children who has a singular focus on the military.
The UK Telegraph said Mattis is able to quote “Sun Tzu, Ulysses S Grant, George Patton, Shakespeare, and the Bible” and carried into battle “a book containing quotes from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher.” One profile of him said he’s never owned a television.
As for Chaos, Mattis has said it stands for “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution,” said Military 1, which called the 44-year military veteran “the most renowned warrior of our day to the combat initiated.”