Wicker Op-Ed on Fox News: Give Trump His Defense Pick and Grant Mattis a Waiver

December 8, 2016

I will be among those voting for Marine Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis to be the next Secretary of Defense. President-elect Donald Trump has picked the right man for right now.

Gen. Mattis has the record and reputation we need in a Secretary of Defense. He is a tried-and-true leader who has proven himself time and again on the battlefield, having commanded Marines during some of the most significant operations of the Persian Gulf War, the War on Terror, and the Iraq War. He is known for approaching difficult decisions with mettle and measure – bringing a deep devotion to the study of military history to his leadership roles.

One look at the military decorations awarded to Gen. Mattis and it is evident he has dedicated his life to the service of our country. But the praises and loyalty of his troops and peers convey another honor: genuine respect and admiration.

Who better to make decisions about how to keep our troops safe and prepared than the former commander of the United States Central Command, a position directly involved in some of the most pressing situations facing our military in the Middle East and North Africa?

Gen. Mattis held that instrumental position for nearly three years, during which he demonstrated his willingness to speak truth to power – taking a particularly aggressive stand on Iran that differed from that of the Obama Administration.

After eight years of foreign policy missteps, President-elect Trump’s bold choice is a welcome change. He understands that, as commander-in-chief, he needs an honest assessment of the threats we face. Gen. Mattis would bring this candor. Our friends and enemies abroad would not question where America stands if he is at the helm of the Pentagon.

We know the repercussions of letting a brutal dictator cross a red line without consequence and withdrawing troops in Iraq before stability is guaranteed. We face a reality that includes a new brand of terrorism, waging barbaric campaigns in cities that American troops fought and died to liberate.  Gen. Mattis understands where military strategy and foreign policy intersect.  He recognizes that long-term military success does not happen in isolation.

I strongly believe the President’s national security team should be in place on Day One. Gen. Mattis may need a special waiver from Congress in order to be confirmed, but this decision is a no-brainer for lawmakers.  Our vote on the government funding bill includes a measure to expedite this waiver and avoid a needless delay.  President-elect Trump has the authority and responsibility to nominate the person he thinks best for this position, and he has picked a commander who exemplifies former President Reagan’s belief in “peace through strength.” I will fight any attempt by Democrats to slow-walk Gen. Mattis’s nomination.

Gen. Mattis is an exceptional leader who understands our nation’s long tradition of civilian control over our country’s military. The last time a congressional waiver was granted to a nominee for Secretary of Defense was during the Truman Administration, on behalf of World War II hero George Marshall.  Doing the same for Gen. Mattis is a justified and, quite frankly, a necessary step. Our world is too unstable and dangerous not to put the best person in charge.

This op-ed was published by Fox News on December 8, 2016.