Within hours of being sworn in as America’s Secretary of Defense, Retired Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis told America’s service members, “It’s good to be back.”
Mattis, the first Cabinet member of President Donald Trump to be confirmed by the Senate, took his oath of office Friday evening and then fired off a message to the troops.
On Saturday, Mattis followed up his note with a visit to the Pentagon.
“I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense,” Mattis wrote.
“Together with the Intelligence Community, we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation,” he added.
Mattis, 66, noted the men and women under his command and those who support those who serve are not just the foundation of the military, but also the society protected by the armed services.
“We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country,” he said.
“You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind,” Mattis added.
Mattis then offered a mix of aggressive preparation for conflict while also supporting diplomacy to avoid it.
“Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future. Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances,” he said.
At a time when the high cost of weapons, such as the much-maligned F-35 fighter, had become an issue, Mattis also noted that he wouldn’t forget who pays the bill for America’s readiness.
“Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people,” he wrote.
“I am confident you will do your part. I pledge to you I’ll do my best as your Secretary,” he added.
Mattis, who retired in 2013 as the chief of the the U.S. Central Command, is the first former military leader to serve as defense secretary since Gen. George C. Marshall held the post in 1950 under President Harry Truman.