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U.S. Senate backs waiver allowing Mattis to lead Pentagon – UPDATE

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly backed a waiver on Thursday that will allow James Mattis to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, despite having retired as a Marine General in 2013.

The Senate voted 81 to 17 for a one-time waiver of a provision of a law on civilian control of the U.S. military requiring a seven-year wait before active-duty military can lead the Department of Defense.

The waiver must still be approved by the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and full House, and signed into law by the president, to allow Mattis to serve if he is confirmed to lead the Pentagon.


The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee backed a waiver on Thursday that will allow James Mattis to serve as President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of defense, despite having retired as a Marine General in 2013.

The panel voted 24-3 to waive a law on civilian control of the U.S. military that would have barred Mattis from assuming the position for seven years after his active duty service. The “no” votes came from three Democrats: Senators Richard Blumenthal, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.

The waiver must still be approved by the full Senate, the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and the full House to allow Mattis to serve if he is confirmed to lead the Pentagon.

Gen. Mattis is a native of Pullman, Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Central Washington University and was commissioned a second lieutenant through ROTC in 1972.

As a lieutenant colonel, Gen. Mattis commanded an assault battalion breaching the Iraqi minefields in Operation Desert Storm. As a colonel, he commanded the 7th Marine Regiment and, on Pentagon duty, he served as the Department of Defense Executive Secretary. As a brigadier general he was the Senior Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Gen. Mattis, led the Special Operation Forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the First Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq. As a general, he served concurrently as the Commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation.

As a two-star general, Gen. Mattis led the First Marine Division from Kuwait to Baghdad in a matter of weeks in 2003, annihilating Saddam Hussein’s defenses and reaching Baghdad faster and with fewer losses than anyone could have expected.
In November 2007, Gen. Mattis was promoted to four-star general. He became Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in 2010 and directed operations across the Middle East before retiring in 2013.

John Beckett