tv Former Defense Secretary James Mattis on Service Leadership CSPAN October 15, 2019 1:08am-2:10am EDT
the way in which candidates names appear on the ballot, and allowing people convicted of felonies to vote after they have served their sentences. dive deeper into the numbers at c-span.org. next, former defense secretary and retired general james mattis en service, leadership, and his time in office. he spoke at an event hosted at george washington's mount vernon. this is one hour. >> good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. is -- and i'm the vice egent for mount vernon ladies association and on behalf of the mount vernon ladies association oard it's my privilege to welcome you today on this beautiful day for the 2019 debate.g today's discussion is made generous gift in
honor of the late jim reiss, president and c.e.o. of mount vernon. tohold the debates each fall mark the opening of the fred w. smith national library for the washington.rge now, six years old, the ashington library has flourished and become an internationally recognized place scholarship and debate. since mount vernon does not or federal tate funds, we're profoundly grateful foundation and other patriotic americans who make it keep mount us to vernon open 365 days a year. in thanking joy and dr. dennis franks who are with us here today. >> i would also like to
acknowledge several other guests. marinelly, united states corps retired and his wife karen. army retired and his wife holly, rear admiral retired united states our and a scholar in institute. brigadier general -- craig united states army retired and his wife debbie, general chad -- 30th commandant of the national war college. washington, and commander of -- chaplain of the uss george washington. you all for joining us. [applause] now i suspect if washington were with us today i suspect would
eartily -- when george washington took over command of the american army back in 1775, chaos.iterally was the opposing force, the british army, was the largest in the world. in the 13 colonies, there was no real american army. there was nothing more than a rag tad band of civilians undisciplined, with no uniforms and few supplies. painstaking work, dedication and perseverance. from mount away vernon to win that war and to hen go on to create the american nation. and in that time, washington in a way that has few equals in the history of mankind. why we're so pleased and i am so honored today to guest, e our special general james mattis, the 26th defense, to share with us his remarkable story of
from 18-year-old recruit in the marine corps reserve to four star general. especially like his subtitle, learning to lead, because we mount vernon are helping others learn to lead, sharing washington's leadership skills with corporate government bodies around the country to our leadership institute and through iscussions such as this one today. we look forward to hearing general mattis share insights career.is the lessons he has learned hrough service in iraq and afghanistan, leadership in three wars, including leadership of central command, where e directed a quarter million troops across the middle east. not be versation could more timely. helping to facilitate the in what's today urely likely to be a lively
q&a, dr. doug -- join me in a for general james mattis. >> thank you all for being here that very warmor welcome for the general. on now.s and i was just thanking you for being here and for that warm welcome. right it into. the general has a tight schedule. he's a man in great command he's been his whole did youa leader, so why write this book? you get my color hair. it's not that i'm going to say the right way to do something cases i did the wrong thing and i try to be very
candid about it but you want to to young people what worked, what didn't work and what you learned, idea being the same make mistakes i did, that they make their own mistakes. all make mistakes, it's whether you learn from them. george washington made many mistakes. very candid about it and onfronted certainly tough times. right now, you said it's a good time for this lecture. say, a reminder by looking at our history, country ruckus through tough, times, much more difficult times, so there is a lot to be aid by following george washington's idea of leadership and actually he was one of those career, d over my required to, i might ashgsd by corps.rine hey were not interested in my mid life crisis. they convinced me to read washington george couldn't be missed.
>> let's talk a little bit about washington instead of jumping your own biography. we were just at the washington presidential library. up some wonderful items for you to enjoy. talk a little bit about washington. he mean to you as an american leader? >> he had a very precise way of leading. study george washington, ven as a youngs officer on the frontier, four words sum it up. t sounds rather methodical but it was not. it was to listen and learn, and then lead.nd if you keep those four points in mind as you look at what he's as he matures as an officer, as he matures as a leader, they aren't the same thing. your troops are the one you declare if you're a leader. ou can have an officer's commission but he learns to actually lead. he example, he listens and learns from allies. he listens and learns from a guy -- and a guy named
lafayette. learns from roshan bo, von steuben. e listens to his allies and he learns from them. when you listen and learn from omeone you're showing them respect so you see it engrained approaching life and life is at the camp for him any times on the seaboard the next step is to help. you listen and learn. you really listen. rebuff them sten to or tell them what you think. you listen and you learn and then you help them and then you lead. you see this repeatedly uring the worst days of the revolution, when his troops are freezing to death and congress voting urned without enough money for blankets. he has all the reasons to start sucking his thumb and saying poor me. he doesn't do it. stays s steadfast and with that very methodical listen, learn and help and valley forge and they humble the red coats who
few destroy napoleon a years later. it shows how chancy it was and how much you can learn by leaders of the past. >> we'll talk about that. that's one of the profound way ts of this book is the you integrate your own memoir with your reading and your and its about the past importance but let's start where as a marine for you, why the marine corps? unstudied s a rather decision. [laughter] >> it was 1968-1969. i was in college. was having a little more fun than was permitted, and as a ay, we all knew we would get drafted. none of us believed we would be brought home a few years later, dodgers, and treated as heroes so we thought we had to go. my brother was in the marines wasn't much more thought to it. i signed up for the marines to army.being in the
some people say i was a draft dodger. you e of the things that write well about, the role of ergeants and corporals in forming a young infantry officer. talk a little bit about that. road about 20 miles quantico, we have an officer candidate school, 85% of ocs is run by sergeants, corporal sergeants, and they are the ones who determine to be made allowed an officer and who won't. the earn right up front value of the nco's. i would just tell you 40 something years later looking on all the fighting that we've been through, combat has very interesting and some exciting moments, but if you ask nco's, outcome is not in doubt. your petty officers, officers, so ed long as you set them up for
success, will win the fight. after, a marine infantry officer, any infantry officer is very much carried by nco's. they don't expect you to do as they say but they do expect that listen, and you see right away george washington's out d of leadership coming in the infantry, to this day, the army and marine infantry, listen and you learn from them and then you help them by calling in artillery fire or air support or medivac, and then you lead them. very consistent with the way george washington led his nco'sutionary army and the carry on that tradition today. >> one of the clear things, first-off, i love, you're very clear about what good leaders do nd what mistakes you've made and that sort of thing but one lessonsof the that you come back to is
allowing the team to use their the ssiveness to achieve job. can you talk about commander's intent and how that's been your own in leadership and how you learned that? >> you learn it in the field, of how you're going to lead. every service has its own culture. lead, and you how to then you have to apply it own unique your personality. and what i realized after a in the marine s corps i really didn't have young sailors and marines looking at at night saying, i wonder how i can mess up tomorrow.ay it took me a while because they are kind of rambunctious when we would pull into port. would have a little too much fun and i would be having my heels looked at the position day in tion the next front of the company commander. but i found if they knew what accomplish, if you really spent time clearly stating it and then doing, and confirming, have
them talk back to you, they you can derstand this, unleash them and take your hands off the steering wheel, if you trained hem up right, them for it and let them use the two qualities we need most in petty officers and nco's in the military, initiative and aggressiveness but you've got to make it clear and it's not as easy as it sounds but at the is time, you say, my aim this and here's kind of how i see it developing, and at the end of the day here's what i you to have done and you can put things right in there that say, by the way, there is a women and cent children on this battlefield. very battlefield is also a humanitarian field so keep your honor clean. a you're taking a shot across crowded marketplace to kill a terrorist is going to end up with a william or child being the shot so take you put that clarity out there, and then your troops take it. give you an example. we have a line of marines across 124 degrees.
i didn't know it got that hot on earth until i was in the middle east. 124 degrees. n owe nets onave bay rifles. they are angry obviously. you can see what's going to happen and the navy chaplain and a couple of his sailors and marines walked out into the handing out rted bottles of chilled water because the people are demonstrating. never have thought that but they knew what our job was, what to keep the peace, passed for peace, in that very for one more 2004, week, one more day, one more this as we tried to catch thing on the right track and it's very hard to throw a rock handed ody who has just you a bottle of chilled water on a 124-degree day. we've got no air conditioning, mob ricity, and the
disappears. understand, we're on the same -- thought of d have that technique but because i said you've got to try and do without any sense of try unfantism, to free these people to conquer them you turn over the initiative to the they know what to do. >> we'll get to some episodes think there was clear intent and there wasn't clarity and the mistakes that that can create and the that creates but let's talk a little about the its of history and importance to a military leader, ny leader, and why does the marine core require books at different ranks. >> what the doctor is talking basically, every time you get promoted in the marine corps they say congratulations. new incigna on you. boy, that looks good and you a sergeant says here's your new book, start reading. even generals, when they make a couple hey are told
of things. one, you will never read poorly again. you'll never hear the truth again. [laughter] >> three, here's your list of reading, and a couple of them are by kissinger, words long.e is 27 the point that the marines make is, it's an imperfect way of the future but it's light we have in that dark path ahead and human nature doesn't change a lot so what across e trying to get to us was, we were responsible for our own development, for our wn learning and we would have to study this stuff. they could train us how to shoot to put a woundow dressing on a wound, how to call or an air vehicle that sort of thing, they knew we would have to know that and trained us to do it. educate cted us to ourselves for what they couldn't train us for, for the unexpected, for the time you're awake in your sleeping bag trying to figure out how you're going to deal with the attack the next day and that's the reading paid off. it's required reading and the
surest way to probably find passed over for promotion is to find did you not do the reading for your rank, effective way ry of motivating people to read in is not hen history taught with the same degree of our universities as it once was. >> we'll talk a little bit more well. that as it struck me so much, going to eorge washington again, let me read a quote. he's a 24 year old colonel of the virginia regiment. regiment back to his and they had to do a court martial. one of the officers wasn't behaving correctly. natural he makes an address to the troops, and in that he says remember it's the not the commission that make the officer. that there is -- there is more the ted from him than title. do not forget there ought to be a time appropriated to attain an officer as f well as to indulge pleasure. and as we have no opportunities example let us
read for this desirable end and list of books they should all be reading. >> life is too short to learn know from you need to your own experience. you've got to read from others, moral dimension to it for the military officers ecause, of course, you're telling very young men, in the infantry, you know, they are infantry for infant soldier for a reason, young, soldier. them ou're going to point toward the enemy and they have got to go, you better know what you're doing. so there is the moral dimension to it, that the father of our there. is talking about but he's also showing at a young age the understanding that held to ve to be certain standards. and by that, you know, it breaks your heart sometimes because they will be friends of yours, when they don't measure up, when don't deliver results, then they have got to be held to a tandard higher than their subordinate troops, and i used
to tell young commanders who coming to grips with what makes their position very lonely, i said, listen, there is the sun.ew under even jesus of nazareth had one 12 go to mud on him. once in a while your suspect reaks down and you've got to impose the standards, that's all there is to it. > i don't know how they selected judas. so let's talk about training then as well. you've been involved in training lot of different capacities including command. one of the great ideas i found the y compelling was importance of simulations and equip the ng to combat to deal with without having combat experience. can you talk a little bit about training and preparation. combat, we of us in thought if we could get a young sail already or marine soldier, first through their three or four fire fights alive, their chances for survival went metally because you know
you're going to react. you know the fear you will feel. training will kick in and you will have confidence in the try, e next to you so you as much as you can with modern to lation techniques, basically approximate the tactical and ethical decisions that you will have to make on the battlefield. but i think, too, in time, for example, at valley forge, where he could ave sulked or lost his entire army as the summer soldiers deserted and the ones that could new the tough winter in jersey stuck women, he used von steuben, and they taught because they would make the troops' drills. in those days you drilled so other you could feel their shoulder on each side of you as you marched into the you're actually transmitting the confidence of your fellow soldier and getting increase there of confidence because you feel and emember, there were, what the french called mulattos, there
were blacks in that army, to 15% we think. there were people who didn't speak english well. immigrants. there were people who didn't know each other in the regular rmy because they were from north carolina and the guy next to them was from massachusetts. they needed to do is and whensome of combat they marched out of valley forge that spring they were trained to o up against the british regulars, most feared army on earth at the time so there is a way to do it. lot ofow, we're taking a advances out of hollywood, frankly, and we're going to as far as in simulation in the military. >> wonderful. o let's talk about the most feared military in the world today, and we'll start with the marines.ttalion seventh you commanded in desert storm. talk a little bit about that. your first time battle?ng in >> of the bat battalion, yes.
the training we went through was days a week over the would ind of terrain we be fighting in. what i remember it most fondly or, it's the last time i brought everyone home alive. arabssailors, marines and in the battalion, kuwaitis who had been caught training in military schools returned to us, and now found nco's ines as air force the kuwaiti air force in an infantry battalion gen. mattis: they were enthusiastic about it as the confidence of the marines and sailors permeated them. we brought them all home alive. one man who got his heirs shot off wrote a letter saying they put a new ear on him and it looks better than the old one. [laughter] i still remember it in very fond terms for the liberation of kuwait. dr. bradburn: that campaign was
extort nearly successful prude one of the things you talk about here -- campaign was extraordinarily successful. you talk about all the levels, and the strategic sense it was clear with the intent was. it was a diplomatic success. it was a political success with the coalition put together. and the execution of it. it seems as we get closer to the present in your book, we do not see that coherence on all of the different levels in strategy and execution. gen. mattis: our about the teaching strategy, villa terry history -- military history and all the western democracies now peered we are not the only ones to have challenges taking strategically. think back to 1990, in the first days of iraq, moving it and subjugating, invading and conquering kuwait, president bush says this will not stand. lastis actually one of the things i heard because before i left the states we were up in the seer nevada, climbing
mountains, i was told to go back and change into desert uniforms. back into southern california and we flew out immediately. over the months we were on the defensive and it was very clear they would not be allowed to invade saudi arabia. then we basically were beefed up. president bush said i want this done quickly and they said well, it will probably take us through thousand troops or something, or 250,000 for three to four to five to six months. he said no, here more troops. i wanted done quickly. quickly. it done we go in and we free kuwait. at that point, from the political right in marshallton, it is march on baghdad. he said no, we are not going to do that. we are not, have mission creep. we're not going to lose the coalition. we need to align the entire world against saddam peered we even have the russians looking at this information, believe it or not come about the radar they sold saddam.
that is how much confidence he created in the world that we would deal with us. iraq is a bulwark against iran. we are not going to baghdad. we may not like him but we are not going to widen the roar. we are there for -- we're not quite to widen the war. we are thereto free kuwait. it shows he knew how to keep fish and creep under control. at the same time, -- how to keep mission creep under control. at the same time he knew how to accomplish the mission because we got every thing we needed plus more. ask ordinary story. dr. bradburn: talk about the leadership training you have been through, at the national war college. we have a commandant of the national war college here today. talk about the national war college and what you learned there. if anything. [laughter] i remember getting grilled one day by the brand-new secretary of defense, don
rumsfeld. him, i was just at the pentagon on an athletic scholarship myself. [laughter] i was in great physical condition. general, when i was at your school. it was a great fiscal workout place. but i think that's a great physical workout place. i think it is important that the national war college be seen as a continuum and officers growth. george washington, if at age 24 he isn't already reading he will never bl to help us troops the way were good commander can. the national war college, i think we still call at the harvard of the military education system. it is a wonderful place for reflection, study, that sort of thing. peopleturned to a lot of and there's a lesson. the guy would turn to for strategic advice, by the time i was at senior general, were guys like kissinger, newt gingrich,
we do not get into politics. his in and. george schultz. colin powell. university.reading he strong from oxford. hughstrong from oxford -- strong from oxford. notice i did not mention just now a singleserving u.s. military or foreign service officer. that should be a big concern to everyone in this room, that i'm turning to people i am younger than in order to get strategic advice. it is a big concern in our universities. theree with teaching about powerless and studying the has truly -- the history of the powerless. we better also study the powerful if we want to deal with this world such as it is. we can all see the storm clouds gathering. we are going to need better strategic thinking in the future. then we have seen in the western democracies, plural, by the way.
it is not a uniquely american problem. the western democracies appear to have gotten to the point of section overlaying sensitivity about warfare that they do not want to study it. it would be like you walked into a medical school and they said well we do not study cancer because that is really bad stuff. are you nuts? you better study it if you want to avoid it. remember what the military's job is up here. it is to try to keep the peace, deter war, for one more year, one more month, one more week, one more day again. so that the diplomats can work their magic, so air to plants listened to with respect. that is -- so our diplomats are listened to with respect. we better do a better job at strategizing so we do not win battles and have inconclusive wars. i guarantee that all you graduated from a college here could call your alma mater and ask them who is teaching military history this semester and they would say what we are not offering that course.
it has not been taught in colleges and universities in this country regularly for a generation. not only that, diplomatic history as well. an economic history. all the fun mental things you need to have a framework to think strategically and that you have to build over time. if you want to have an impact, call your president of your university and do not give them another dime until they start teaching military history there. meanwhile, give it to mount vernon, because we do teaching here. [laughter] gen. mattis: well put. [applause] dr. bradburn: one of the things i was confused about, as a civilian historian, is i thought the marines were an amphibious force. afghanistan is a land locked country. how did you convince people to take task force 50 800s of miles into southern afghanistan? force 58 task
hundreds of miles into afghanistan. gen. mattis: there is not an intelligence officer in the u.s. who felt they hadn't let you down. they never should have gone through slaughtering 3000 people in new york and washington after 9/11. citizens of innocent people from a 91 countries, just a shame how that attack was. -- just to show how international the attack was. dr. bradburn: what is a task force. gen. mattis: you are given a task and you organize a force for it. it could be 15 army green braids , guest green beret, , it be 10,000 greens, it can be three aircraft carriers. whatever the task is, you organize a force for it and you given a number. ours was task force 58. gen. mattis: bottom line, the admiral called me in and i am a one star and he is a three-star. some admirals worry me, sorry
shipmates. the admiral will eat more, the fleet commander, if it was 150 years ago, he would have an eye in a dolly roger and waiting assorted he calls me and says the green beret and the cia have them on the run. fallf they're going to back on kabul. he said nobody has held kabul in 500 years, so they are going to fall back on cut heart, their spiritual home. then he looks me in the eye and is 20 and a map and says can you get the marines on the mediterranean fleet and the pacifically together, and launch the toptical miles over of pakistan, and moved against, heart, isolated and moved against it and take it? and i say yep, i can do that. go write some orders, whatever i have to send and i will give you an airplane to go circle. and i'm going to show you how good it was the marines may be read all those books. and tell you how to make
four-star general or admiral. take notes here. we are up there circling at cant, a separate plane, you see anything, you can see a periscope at 20 miles. you can imagine how good that airplane is to look at the battles. i can see the fighting up north, cars coming out of there that were retreating. see the fighting on the pakistan border. i saw this big dark patch of ground south of con zahara -- qandahar. and i knew exactly how i was going to nail them i did not care how brave the two herbs were or hominy tank they had. i had read enough things -- how brave the troops were or how many tanks they had. i had read enough to know about it right there. the clue as my enemy general is dumber than a bucket of rocks and get promoted. it wasn't that hard. the 1950's they brought casey take her airplanes to the marine inventory. in the 1970's they brought in light armored vehicles.
an area futile helicopters. and thanks to the marine corps, they toughened up boot camp in the 1990's because the young lads were getting in and gals are getting in and were not as physically tough as we needed, so we extended boot camp. we were tough enough for it. then the training we put those units through, all i did to benefit from what people had done literally from the decade when i had been born and on through because they had built this machine, this navy marine machine. the result was we flew in. there was nothing they could do about it. with the help of the cia, the air force special tactics folks, the navy and marine pilots off the carriers. it was not that hard to do. i could have gone further. that was just why wanted to go is where we went. dr. bradburn: attics ordinary part of the book and also the beginning for me as a reader -- an extraordinary part of the book and for me as a reader the beginning. opportunities that emerged were lost. bora.f them it was tora
your idea was to seal off the passes so osama bin laden cannot escape into pakistan. talk about that idea and how you imagine it could have been done. gen. mattis: interesting our cia -- our intelligence told us where osama bin laden was. we knew he would try to get out to pakistan but he was not going yet. this was early after 9/11 after we had gone in to afghanistan. before christmas of 2001. so i recalled from my reading how the u.s. army had fought geronimo on the southwest border , using hilo graph stations which were inside of each other so they could monitor any marauding native american bands coming across the border out of mexico, where they were hiding out. so i called back to maryland where the marine corps intelligence activity was, within 24 hours those well rested intelligence people not out the field were able to
identify if there are only in one of two valleys. and we were very confident that's where osama bin laden was we could put marine outposts along certain mountaintops and they could see each other from one to another. then we could just push up the two valleys and make sure we got him. i did all that, had it all set to go. what i failed to do, i'd come out from underneath army or navy command and control. i had shifted to army. i had not spent time breaking my new boss, who was 1800 miles away. by radio. i do not keep him informed of the developing opportunity and the capability we had. to go in and block the passes and get him. so that is where one of the lessons i learned you have to keep your boss informed when you're doing something. the time we had broached it to them, it had been argued about and this sort of thing, osama bin laden had gotten over the border into pakistan. dr. bradburn: but i love that lesson. and you come back to another
place as well, your own critique of yourself as a leader there. rather than complaining that oh, these guys above me ruined this for us, you put it on yourself. that it is your job to convince people to see the situation that you say. i think all of us as leaders, i have a board. i struggle with trying to convince the board to see things the way i see them. where is dede? she knows that. [laughter] you do not see that in leadership books. it is downward focusing and much less about that need to committee kate up the chain. -- to communicate up the chain. gen. mattis: as a leader you do not get the opportunity to say to someone else's fault. there something you could have done differently. we are not victims in this world despite how much in america we seem to be exalting victimhood. you're not a victim you can noise crate options. that is one thing the marines teach a very young. you are basically, you improvise and adapt and overcome. i should have been on the phone
earlier. i should have done it right from the first day we shifted command. i still commanded shifts at -- ships at sea under the navy admiral. the troops ashore was now under the general and i had not spent time doing what my duty required me to do. it was my fill your. dr. bradburn: your crackle of the iraq war for number of -- your critical of the iraq war for number of directions. astonished by the lack of guidance he received in the aftermath of the combat phase of the war, a lack of a census there was planning about the occupation. so it was up to you all to do that thinking. because you would be there on the ground. are you critical about the immediate elections and the decision to disband the iraqi army. there seem to be a real lack of clarity of intent in that part of that mission. coming from the top. gen. mattis: part of it was the difficulty. you will remember there was insistence that saddam allow the you and inspectors in.
it was not just u.s. military. -- his ownst generals believed he had weapons of mass destruction and told if they got closer than the tigris river with their units you would have gassed them. it was one of the ways he kept control. kuwaitis thought he had chemical weapons. the israelis thought he had them. lotnow that there was a going on at the u.n.. but we did not know general kelly, i believe cross the line of departure, we still did not know if you're going to baghdad. we knew we were to seize the oil fields. we literally crossed the line of departure and we do not know how far we are going we planned for it. we plan for baghdad and beyond. fortunately we did. because general kelly had to take a third of the division beyond baghdad. i would tell you that gaining that clarity is sometimes very difficult. you have to deal with that as a military officer. however, there were some things that were just unwise. coming off those very hot days in the summer, i remember first
lieutenant not three is out of his undergraduate as an intelligence officer, walking into great big cavernous palace where we had set up the division headquarters. are briefing me, he said, we hear they are going to disband the iraqi army. we had gotten them back into the barracks and started paying a little bit of money so they can feed their families. we had some meetings with them saying, what was it like fighting us compared to fighting he fought the iranians, try to restore their sense of pride. that we were not there to cross their spirits. spirits printeir i said do not pay attention to rumors lieutenant, let's talk about what is real. no one is going to be that stupid. the next day, i walked in and i heard all of the chairs in the room being moved back. usually when they walk into a headquarters they say three words, general on deck. that way they stop telling general officer jokes. this time, they are all standing up and they say general on deck
i know something is up. i walked on this thing and there's a lieutenant standing there and held up one piece of paper. it has three senses. iraqi army is disbanded. first lieutenant less than 25 years old says, general, we just started an insurgency. first lieutenant was right there, it was not hard to see what we had just started. again, you have to really know what you're going into. you have to study it. if you do not understand the culture and by that i may not just the culture and history, you better understand the music, their dance. the myths, what they are proud of in their history. if you do not understand the history, and the cultural place, you're going and unarmed into a fight. and it is not going to be pleasant for you. dr. bradburn: one of the chapters which is brilliant in difficult, isery the story when you arrived back in and bar province in january, 2004.anbar province in
you argue that we lost the moral high ground in the. there. very muchyou are against their military response to the killing of the contractors that have been on cnn and had outraged everyone in this country. that.bout if you do not mind, let me quote from you. contractors bodies were displayed after being mutilated and general mattis rights, the defilement of the human body affirms our sense of dignity. after a reference to homer and achilles, this is in your book. debasing the body of hector. in fallujah our military strength be guided by moral power as it has since george washington first commanded our continent army. by killing those who had .iolated that great rule but you thought that the assault, the military assault on the city was the wrong way to go
about dealing with that. gen. mattis: we were operating under a tree to cap print we do not have enough troops we are covering an area the size of north carolina with 11,000 troops. the enemy was surging at that point. -- fallujah was a tribal town which means they are different tribal elements. there were some quite willing to help us hunt down. we had pictures of who had done it. we know we could find who had done it from the other tribal elements. and we could hunt them down and we could kill them. but i did not want to assault the city of over 300,000 people and have to evacuate it first and knowing what urban combat is like. i wanted to try to do it a different way. i was ordered to attack. line, we had only to assault battalions to put into the fight initially and we are pulling others in. one of the army division commanders, marty dempsey, turned his division around and
relieve me in certain places so that we could pull more marines up into the fight. but it was a tough fight. and when we got into it, the information by the enemy was very effective. they showed us using artillery fire in fallujah. i would have used it if we needed it but we never fired one artillery round into fallujah and the first battle of fallujah, not one. yet the stringers who showed it and passed those films onto international news media made it look like the marines were a bunch of cowboys, going in and laying waste to a town. believe or not, one of the news media that was harshest with us was from another country and the actual pictures were taken from a city where there troops were located. so we got beat on the information war. so we got beat on the information war. around that time, the pictures and photos of the abu ghraib prison came out. dr. bradburn: at a critical moment in this. gen. mattis: it was. now you have an enemy that says, look on the rains were stuck
deep inside the city i did put one copy out. i said ok i'm going to do it. caveat. e that's why they're called orders, not likes. deep inside the city the campaign the enemy amounts stops us eventually after negotiating we had to pull back. now they could say besides these bad, very bad things that happened at grape, which we should be held -- at abu ghraib, which we should be held accountable for. it would also show that they had stopped the u.s. marines. so much later when we had to attack again, the enemy now had time to fortify the houses, put ammunition in and we lost a lot of good boys, army, navy, marine going in there. taking it back. dr. bradburn: it is very powerful chapter. let's flash flowered -- flashforward tear time at central command. to your time at central
command. you felt him eat range and did not have a unified strategy? -- you felt the region did not have a unified strategy? gen. mattis: this is starting to feel like waterboarding. [laughter] dr. bradburn: you read it. said youis: you ratted. dr. bradburn: you said you're illiterate if you haven't read hundreds of books. gen. mattis: i had to read it. dr. bradburn: i had to read it. you're flying around and try to build relationships with people and ultimately, get that's -- it gets back to the question of, are we as a society, are our institutions producing clear strategic thinking and is it being deployed? gen. mattis: what happens is you get caught up in the urgency of the moment and with modern information systems you get flooded with so many tactical details. you forget that at some level you just need to leave that to the young officers.
if you have trained them, leave them alone. make certain you get the strategy right, make clear what you're trying to accomplish. then, ensure you are giving them the feedback on the feedback loops and you adapt it. but do not lose sight of as martin luther king jr put it, keep her in the ball on the objective. do not take a ride off the objective. leadership is leadership whether in civil or war. it is the same sort of thing. in this case, what concerned me was i could not tell what the policy was, what it was supposed to look like at the end. notew for example we did one iran to have new clear weapons. and i agree with that. i know we do not want to run to block the shipping of oil when 40% of the spot market oil goes out to the strait of hormuz. but i did not know is what do we want the relationship with iran to look like at the end of the day. so you have a military which is a pretty brittle instrument. it is working on things and they
do not really know how that nest inside the broader foreign policy. can i wander off that first set? i get called to become the nominated to be the secretary of defense. i never met mr. trump before. we have an interview. i disagree with him a couple times. it is all the book. in the first couple pages. and i thought well, back to stanford. here we go. life is good west of the rockies. [laughter] then he says i'm going to be the secretary of defense. you're going to nominate ap right after christmas this year i flew into d.c. and i heard rex tillerson was in town. the nominee to be secretary state. i called him up. i said i've never met you before why do we have dinner he said sure. two old guys setting the back of a restaurant, 20 at the december. pretty empty town of there that time of year. we are getting to know each
other. texas dies, his dad delivered milk and milk truck. he works his way through college, eagle scout becomes an engineer for exxon mobil. rise to the top and all around the world, he's lived in yemen and into russia. i'm telling him i marine guy. and i said, you know, over my 40 some years in career there been times the secretary state and defense did not even talk to each other. they just did not get along. i set our country paid a price for that. i said i think we have militarized our foreign policy. i think you need to be in the driver seat. i will inform you of the military factors and will be blunt. i will not hold anything back. i'll tell you what i can do and what i cannot do paradise that we need you and your diplomats in the driver seat of our foreign policy. because that is the way it has got to be. this is america. we have two powers, the fara of power of inspiration and intimidation. sometimes you need the power of intimidation. but we really need the power of inspiration. that is where our diplomats and
seeing a better world can keep allies gathered to our side. so he just reached over the table at that point, and i said let's shake on it. and he reached over and we shook and said we're going to meet every week, which we did when we are in town had breakfast together in his office. we work every thing out to read we did not have to go the white house arguing state and defense print we went and combined and laid out this is our position. doing what public servants and governments should be doing as far as i can see. nothing special. i bring it up, ladies and gentlemen, because strategy is a lot more than war. it is a lot more than military. in is a whole lot more than that. what would happen if we were bringing young students from the middle east to this center here. and putting them through a week or two just bringing. and then trading email addresses with the ones from rocco -- morocco, jordan, saudi, so they could come here and see how something else works and then go home. maybe something to it. you know?
. dr. bradburn: absolutely. it would be nice if he could emulate the way to be done. quickly on the parts of allies. talk about your expense with allies and why they matter so much. gen. mattis: if you go back to george washington. go down to yorktown sometime. if you stand where the british would have been standing, looking out from yorktown, surrounded now and praying their fleet will get there before the french. it did not work for them, they did not pray enough i guess. but if you look at the battlements out there, you will see a star and then you see the cross of lorraine and the cross of lorraine. understoodwashington right away why we needed allies. was a veteran soldier from poland. once in prussia. lafayette and rochambeau are from france. i can go on. we had allies come in and help us or the french army was a professional army.
rochambeau thought the world of washington peered not because washington knew everything. russia both had been a veteran of many campaigns. but he saw and washington a man who could learn and really adapt and lead the revolutionary army. and you put that together, remember, we had a continental army, continental navy, continental marines before we had a country. and from our very beginning, allies have been critical to our nation survival. so i see myself in the continuing tradition of how we look at allies and history is very clear to me. not just about america, a nation with allies thrives. a nation without them dies. so real simple. the marines have put it more bluntly i think they say if you're going to a gunfight, ring your friends with guns. [laughter] it is the same idea. come together with like-minded people per you would not agree with everything i'm sure fdr agreed with little of stalin.
other than let's to feed hitler's. world,t is an imperfect we need allies. dr. bradburn: you quote churchill on that question. gen. mattis: go ahead. dr. bradburn: the only thing worse than fighting with allies is fighting without allies. gen. mattis: it is hard. it is hard because you speak different languages. an ice to tell my u.s. officers at central command, u.s. central command where we had 70 other nations on my staff. u.s. central command, not all the good ideas come from the country with the most aircraft carriers sold listen up and you can listen and learn and help them and then laid. same idea, very methodical. george washington had a right. that had it right. dr. bradburn: you call america great big experiment print what does that mean to you and what does that mean to us. we are trying to
build a country here. it is hard work. the constitution was designed to be hard after that nasty argument with king george the third. do not want it easy. we do not want to place the king with a form of government that would dominate us. so we said we're going to make three coequal branches and we are going to see if we can come up and by the way just to add a little more problem to it, will give one of those branches a bicameral legislature. and by the way, all of them have to work together to govern. but the constitution is a very hearty document. what is not so hardy is this experiment. we are going to have to rediscover our fundamental friendliness and respect for one another. and respect i think goes to how george washington did it again. listen and learn. that is high respect. not no contempt for some of the different ideas or someone with a different idea. once in a while the people who disagree with you might be i keep telling myself that. for me, it is next permit we have an obligation, most of us in this room were born here.
just who emigrated here immigrated here, you're here like the rest of us by choice. we have a response building to the next generation to pass the freedoms on as soundly as we received them. we just have to look and say that includes fiscal freedom. are we really taxing ourselves enough so we are not increasing the debt for young people that we are just went to pass over to them? what i would call intergenerational theft. i really governing. it seems all we are doing is dividing. -- finally you vote. i lose peered at this point everyone who voted for me, the guys who voted for the other one. governing takes unity peered elections are dividing. that is ok. that's democracy, sometimes it is not civil. a little raucous when it is over, we go back to governing.
governing is about unifying. that is the experiment that worries me right now. dr. bradburn: fantastic. i want to end with a special treat for everyone here. dr. bradburn: when you started a sec. defense, you asked for a strategy. where is the strategy? and you rewrote and wrote a strategy with a lot of help i'm sure. one of the aspects of it was you point out that china is a competitor of the united states. and we had to think about clearly about how to deal and interact and engage with china, and one of the wonderful things you did was you brought a number of chinese to mount vernon a year ago in november. would you talk a little bit
about what you had in mind in that visit? i'm going to click through some images. they are arriving helicopter. there you are. gen. mattis: this is me on the left, and the chinese general with his hand up and we have met before and we are friendly in the sense of the man-to-man relationship. on the piazza and mount vernon. mineral -- the minister of defense. end their country it is a general, in our country is not. dr. bradburn: does anybody notice was in the back corner of the photo. i'm not talking about the general, i am right there. [laughter] trying to button it in because the general is coming in. getting ready. then we are inside. talk about that guy. gen. mattis: what i wanted to do was to make sure that our counterpart made sure how a real revolutionary general handles leadership.
so i wanted him to come here to mount vernon with 40 for staff. and right after he meets with general washington, he and i go for a walk. out in the woods. the general and i, i was very straightforward talk. as ii was trying to do pointed out the key to the bastille that lafayette gave to general washington that still hangs in the house thanks to the ladies of mount vernon who defends this place against anyone who would think that they could in any way modify or adapt it to modern circumstances. [laughter] gen. mattis: i wanted to show that in real revolutionary regimes, you free political prisoners. like the french did. like we do not have. i wanted to make some very blunt statements peered i'm not paid to be subtle. it is also an effort to do
something i think was essential, between our two militaries to make clear that if we do not want to go down the road of europe in the 20th century and engulf the world in a war, we had better figure out a way for two nuclear armed superpowers to deal with each other with our differences when we have them. we are going to have to finish your out how to manage our differences as they come into their own. cooperate and collaborate and i'm happy to do that whenever we can to also confront where we must. so the idea was to open to medication over this very beautiful dinner that your folks put on for us here. to try to create that sort of environment. this is in the greenhouse with mount vernon, a dinner. american leaders and they had 15 chinese. of youthful night. gen. mattis: more than that. west point choir came down.
they introduced some of the songs with the cadets speaking mandarin. and steps would speak forward is no translation so that cadets were studying chinese leg was at west point would send a message in itself. -- who were setting chinese language would send a message in itself. dr. bradburn: having a western looking person come out and talking english and chinese to the chinese military. and then wire these guys there? gen. mattis: we also wanted to just remind them that there is the other side of the military. [laughter] dr. bradburn: they look good. the silent drill team. unbelievable. gen. mattis: just a little welcome. [laughter] fantastic.rn: it was a beautiful evening. let's get the general a big round of applause. >> c-span's "washington
journal," live every day with every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up tuesday morning, experiences as a whistleblower. then, the latest on the house democrats' impeachment inquiry and how it can impact congressional races in 2020. and the editor of "the american conservative" on president trump's recent decisions on syria. watch c-span's "washington journal" live tuesday morning at 7:00 eastern, and be sure to watch "washington journal" wednesday following the fourth democratic presidential candidates debate. join with your calls, facebook comments, tweets, and messages. ♪ >> the house will be in order. >> for 40 years, c-span has
provided unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, supreme court, and public-policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1970 nine, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. >> next, law professor gary lawson explains why he thinks robert mueller's appointment as special counsel was unlawful. he is also a founding member of the federalist society, and he spoke to law students at this event held by boston university. an hour and 15 minutes. minutes. >> good afternoon. i'm the dean of austen university's school of law, and i'm delighted to welcome you to the philip beck lecture. philip beck graduated having served