In his new position as secretary of defense, General James Mattis has assumed control of the world’s largest and most powerful military. Mattis is now in command of a military made up of nearly one-and-a-half-million people spread across the entire globe. The General is inarguably one of the most powerful men in the world.
Yet, the renown “Warrior Monk” seemingly remains as humble and modest as he’s always been.
When Secretary of Defense James Mattis was boarding his flight to South Korea early Wednesday morning, he did something unprecedented for someone in his position. Mattis carried his own bags onto the plane. Embarking on his first overseas trip as Secretary of Defense, Mattis sent a clear message about his leadership style.
Carrying his own bags, DefSec James Mattis boarded E-4B Airborne Command Post for his first foreign trip: 18½ hours to South Korea. pic.twitter.com/pXwRTlfk9e
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) February 1, 2017
To see someone so powerful carrying their own bags may be surprising to some, but to people familiar with the famed “Warrior Monk,” it was all but expected. A closer look shows that this wasn’t a first for the secretary. He has long shed the traditional comforts of power which has, in turn, made him incredibly popular with the people who have served under him.
When he arrived back at the Pentagon on his first day as Secretary of Defense, Mattis was greeted by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General James Dunford…Image Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images
The Secretary smiled as he exited the car with a bag in each hand.Image Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images
And carried them into his new office.Image Credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images
Even in Afghanistan, Mattis carried his own pack. Here he is at Kandahar Airport in 2002:Image Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images
He carried ALL of his own packs:Image Credit: @szstupidcool/Twitter
This isn’t anything new for Secretary Mattis. Stretching far back into his days in the Marine Corps, Mattis has long been praised for being a servant-leader and always putting the needs of his subordinates before himself.
Perhaps no better story can describe this characteristic of Secretary Mattis than when he opted to spend Christmas on base at Quantico so the young Marine originally scheduled to do so could be home with his family. General Charles Krulak, then the Commandant of the Marine Corps, had stopped by the base to deliver cookies and was shocked to find Mattis on duty. Not only had Secretary Mattis given up his holiday for a young Marine, he hadn’t told anyone. He simply did it because he knew it was right.
In an interview with Breitbart, Rep. Ryan Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, spoke highly of Mattis’ unique and admiral approach to leadership, saying:
“He makes a point of being in the thick of things with his troops and he makes a point of connecting personally with his men and women – something career bureaucrats in Washington are incapable of doing”
Mattis’s unique approach to leadership served him well in the Marine Corps and it looks like he’ll be taking a similar approach in his new role as secretary of defense.