General Jim Mattis

Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow

General Jim Mattis, the Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is an expert on national security issues, especially strategy, innovation, the effective use of military force, and the Middle East. He heads a project on the gap between civil and military perspectives and is writing a book on leadership.

Before coming to Hoover, Jim was the commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM). While commanding CENTCOM from 2010 to 2013, he was responsible for military operations involving more than 200,000 US soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines in Afghanistan, Iraq, and eighteen other countries in the Middle East and south-central Asia.

General Mattis commanded at multiple levels in his forty-two-year career as a Marine. As a lieutenant, he served as a rifle and weapons platoon commander in the Third Marine Division. As a captain, he commanded a rifle company and a weapons company in the First Marine Brigade.

As a major, he commanded Recruiting Station Portland, Oregon. As a lieutenant colonel, he commanded the First Battalion, Seventh Marines, one of Task Force Ripper's assault battalions in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. As a colonel, he commanded the Seventh Marines (Reinforced).

On becoming a brigadier general, he commanded first the First Marine Expeditionary Brigade and then Task Force 58, during Operation Enduring Freedom in southern Afghanistan. As a major general, he commanded the First Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

He also served as a recruiter, commanded the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and was the executive secretary to Secretaries of Defense William Cohen and William Perry and the senior military assistant to Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy De Leon.

In his first tour as a lieutenant general, Mattis commanded the Marine Corps Combat Development Command. Subsequently, he commanded the I Marine Expeditionary Force and served as the commander of US Marine Forces Central Command. From 2007 to 2009, he served as both NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation and Commander of the United States Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM).

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jim graduated from Central Washington State University in 1972. He is also a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.

He has been frequently satirized on the military humor site

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Recent Commentary

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“You Built Your Own Monument”

by General Jim Mattisvia Hoover Digest
Friday, October 16, 2015

General James Mattis speaks to his fellow vets.

Charles Hill and General James Mattis on the Iran Deal, Democracy, and Freedom
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Charles Hill And General James Mattis On The Iran Deal, Democracy, And Freedom

interview with Charles Hill, General Jim Mattisvia Uncommon Knowledge
Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Recorded on  July 16, 2015 - Hoover fellows Charles Hill and James Mattis discuss the Iran deal and the state of the world on Uncommon Knowledge with Hoover fellow Peter Robinson. In their view the United States has handed over its leading role to Iran and provided a dowry along with it. 

Analysis and Commentary

The Meaning Of Their Service

by General Jim Mattisvia Wall Street Journal
Friday, April 17, 2015

A retired four-star Marine Corps general on the clarifying effect of combat experience, the poison of cynicism and how veterans can help revive American optimism.

Hoover fellow Peter Robinson interviews Jim Hake and General Jim Mattis
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Jim Hake, General Jim Mattis, And Spirit Of America

interview with Jim Hake, General Jim Mattisvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, March 13, 2015

Spirit of America began in 2003, and the idea gained enormous support, including from General Jim Mattis, commander of some of the first missions in Iraq. Today, Spirit of America is working around the world, providing assistance in response to local needs identified by our troops, from sewing machines to vocational training, wherever there is a need.

General Jim Mattis brings insight and clarity to the nature of war
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General Jim Mattis Brings Insight And Clarity To The Nature Of War

interview with General Jim Mattisvia Uncommon Knowledge
Friday, March 6, 2015

In this episode, Uncommon Knowledge is honored to have retired four-star General James Mattis. 

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Using Military Force Against ISIS

by General Jim Mattisvia Defining Ideas
Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We need to match our commitment to the threat. 

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A New American Grand Strategy

by General Jim Mattisvia Defining Ideas
Thursday, February 26, 2015

We must adopt a firm and consistent stance in defense of our values. 

Taylor Jones cartoon

“The Enemy Is Not Waiting”

by General Jim Mattisvia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, January 28, 2015

America is engaged in a clash not only of arms but of ideas, according to a man who understands both kinds of combat.

Capitol Building
Analysis and Commentary

General Jim Mattis testifies before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services

by General Jim Mattisvia US Senate
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

General Jim Mattis testified before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services in the hearing on Global Challenges and U.S. National Security Strategy.  Read his statement.

General James Mattis speaks at Hoover's 2014 Fall Retreat

The Worsening Situation in the Middle East–and America’s Role

by General Jim Mattisvia Fellow Talks
Monday, October 20, 2014

At Hoover's 2014 Fall Retreat, General James Mattis, an Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover, discussed US foreign policy in a talk entitled “The Worsening Situation in the Middle East–and America’s Role.”