James Norman Mattis (born September 8, 1950) is an American veteran and former government official who served as the 26th United States Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through December 2018. He resigned over policy differences with President Donald Trump. A retired United States Marine Corps general, Mattis served in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
Mattis was commissioned in the Marine Corps through the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps after graduating from Central Washington University. A career Marine, he gained a reputation among his peers for "intellectualism," and eventually advanced to the rank of general. From 2007 to 2010 he commanded the United States Joint Forces Command and concurrently served as NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. He was Commander of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013. After retiring from the military, he served in several private sector roles, including as a board member of Theranos.
Mattis was nominated as Secretary of Defense by President-elect Trump, and confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2017. He needed a waiver from Congress to allow his nomination to be considered, as he had only been separated from the military for three years and U.S. federal law requires at least seven years of retirement for former military personnel to be appointed Secretary of Defense. As Secretary of Defense, Mattis affirmed the United States' commitment to defending longtime ally South Korea in the wake of the 2017 North Korea crisis. An opponent of proposed collaboration with China and Russia, Mattis stressed what he saw as their "threat to the American-led world order". Mattis occasionally voiced his disagreement with certain Trump administration policies, opposing the proposed withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and budget cuts that hamper the ability to monitor the impacts of climate change.