President-elect Donald Trump has nominated retired Marine Gen. James Mattis for Secretary of Defense, likening him to Gen. George Patton.
On Dec. 1, Trump announced his decision during a post-election rally in Cincinnati, Ohio, several days before his transition team was set to disclose the nomination, CNN reports.
"We are going to appoint 'Mad Dog' Mattis as our secretary of defense," Trump told the crowd. "But we're not announcing it until Monday so don't tell anybody."
A former four-star general who had served in the Marine Corps for 44 years, Mattis bolstered his reputation during the Iraq War and was appointed by President Barack Obama to head the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East in 2010.
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Mattis has also been a vocal critic of the Obama administration's Iran Deal, asserting that the Middle Eastern nation is the top threat in the region.
The former general earned the nickname "Mad Dog" for successfully leading both American and American troops into the 2004 battle of Fallujah in Iraq and has been called "The Warrior Monk" for his avid interest in military history.
"They say he's the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have and it's about time," Trump said.
Trump has previously stated that one conversation he had with Mattis had changed his mind about his proposal to reinstitute waterboarding as a U.S. interrogation technique.
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Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, praised Mattis' nomination.
"I have had the privilege of knowing General Mattis for many years," McCain said in a statement, according to Politico. "He is without a doubt of one of the finest military officers of his generation and an extraordinary leader who inspires a rare and special admiration of his troops."
Despite his esteemed reputation, Mattis could face hurdles in being confirmed for Secretary of Defense. There is a legal statute that forbids service members from serving in civilian positions within a set number of years after leaving the military. Mattis has only recently retired and would need a waiver approved by 60 votes in the Senate.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, has signaled that she will not make an exception for Mattis.
"While I deeply respect General Mattis's service, I will oppose a waiver," Gillibrand said. "Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy, and I will not vote for an exception to this rule."
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, has suggested that Mattis will be granted the waiver.
"I don't ultimately think it will be a bar because I think he is so well thought of that he can overcome people's' reservations of that," Schiff said.
On Dec. 2, another controversy that could provide another hurdle for Mattis' confirmation resurfaced. Former Army Special Forces officer Jason Amerine took to social media to accuse the retired general of refusing to help him and fellow Green Berets after they were hit by friendly fire in 2001, according to NBC News.
During a mission in Afghanistan, a team of Army Green Berets was mistakenly hit by a U.S. smart bomb, resulting in two immediate casualties and Staff Sgt. Brian Cody Prosser being grievously wounded. Mattis, who was serving as the brigadier general of nearby Marines, reportedly refused to dispatch a rescue mission. Prosser ultimately succumbed to his wounds.
"He was indecisive and betrayed his duty to us, leaving my men to die during the golden hour when he could have reached us," Amerine wrote on Facebook. "Every element in Afghanistan tried to help us except the closest friendly unit, commanded by Mattis."