Hon. James N. Mattis
Former US Secretary of Defense
US Marine Corps, Retired
Spirit of America’s unique capability is figuring out what needs to be done and doing it. It has truly saved lives. It has been worth its weight in gold.
James N. Mattis served as the 26th Secretary of Defense. A native of Richland, Washington, Secretary Mattis enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserve at the age of 18. After graduating from Central Washington University in 1971, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Marine Corps. During his more than four decades in uniform, Secretary Mattis commanded Marines at all levels, from an infantry rifle platoon to a Marine Expeditionary Force. He led an infantry battalion in Iraq in 1991, an expeditionary brigade in Afghanistan after the 9/11 terror attack in 2001, a Marine Division in the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq in 2003, and led all US Marine Forces in the Middle East as Commander, I Marine Expeditionary Force and US Marine Forces Central Command. During his non-combat assignments, Secretary Mattis served as Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense; as Director, Marine Corps Manpower Plans & Policy; as Commanding General, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and as Executive Secretary to the Secretary of Defense. As a joint force commander, Secretary Mattis commanded US Joint Forces Command, NATO’s Supreme Allied Command for Transformation, and US Central Command. At US Central Command, he directed military operations of more than 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, Marines, and allied forces across the Middle East. Following his retirement from the US Marine Corps in 2013, Secretary Mattis served as the Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, specializing in the study of leadership, national security, strategy, innovation, and the effective use of military force. In 2016, he co-edited the book, Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military. Secretary Mattis joined Spirit of America’s Board of Advisors for a second time in 2020.