Retired U.S. Marine Corps General James Mattis testifies before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to serve as defense secretary in Washington, U.S. January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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WASHINGTON: In November 2012, shortly before the White House ended his tenure commanding U.S. forces in the Middle East, Marine Gen. James Mattis delivered an urgent message to his boss: An Iranian fighter jet had fired errantly on a U.S. drone flying over the Gulf.Mattis now stands on the brink of becoming Pentagon chief for President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to toughen U.S. policy toward Iran.Mattis, who retired in 2013, is in line to be the first career military officer to serve as defense secretary in more than a half-century. Before Mattis can join the Cabinet, Congress must approve a one-time exception to a law requiring a military officer to be out of uniform for at least seven years before leading the Pentagon.Mattis, 66, is one of three recently retired senior generals selected by Trump for top administration jobs.Mattis could attract top-notch talent to the Pentagon, said Richard Fontaine, the Center for a New American Security's president.
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