General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis.
Profile: General James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, Donald Trump's pick for secretary of defence.
James Mattis, then commander of the US Central Command, appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee in 2011 Credit: AFP.
James "Mad Dog" Mattis is a retired Marine Corps general who earned his nickname by garnering a reputation as a charismatic and tough-fighting military commander.
Enlisting in the Marines Corp at age 19, he went on to fight in the Persian Gulf War, and in Afghanistan and Iraq.
By the time of the 2003 invasion of Baghdad he had been promoted to the rank of major general, and a year later he played key roles in heated battle of Fallujah.
In May 2004 he gave the order to strike a "suspected foreign fighter safe house" in Mukareeb, a small Iraqi village. But the target transpired to be the venue of a wedding, with the bombs killing some 42 men, women and children attending the ceremony.
The US maintained that the attack had been legitimate and General Mattis asserted it had taken him 30 seconds to deliberate on whether to attack the target.
Iraqi pro-government forces advance towards the city of Fallujah on May 23, 2016, as part of a major assault to retake the city from Isil Credit: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/ AFP.
He later warned his troops against harming civilians, telling them that "whenever you show anger or disgust toward civilians, it's a victory for al-Qaeda and other insurgents". General Mattis co-authored a counterinsurgency manual aimed at limiting sectarian violence in Iraq before the US military withdrawal in December 2011.
He was a popular leader, known for "getting into the trenches" with his troops, and was labelled by the Marine Corps Times as the "most revered Marine in a generation".
Eccentric but revered in military circles, he is known for his rhetoric, which includes the slogans "Marines don't know how to spell the word 'defeat'", and "be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet."
Donald Trump announces James 'Mad Dog' Mattis, former Marines general, as his secretary of defence.
A voracious reader with a personal library of more than 6000 books, he became a student of war and is reportedly able to quote Sun Tzu, Ulysses S Grant, George Patton, Shakespeare, and the Bible on the subject.
He is infamous in military circles for carrying into battle a book containing quotes from Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor and philosopher.
Never married and without children, his long military career earned him the nickname the "Warrior Monk".
In 2005 he attracted controversy telling the audience of a panel discussion that "it's fun to shoot some people".
"Actually it's quite fun to fight them, you know. It's a hell of a hoot," General Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the California audience. "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right up there with you. I like brawling."
In 2007 General Mattis was appointed as the head US Joint Forces Command and Nato Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. Three years later he was promoted to the head of Central Command, overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
His region also included Iran and he became an outspoken critic of Tehran. The Obama administration retired General Mattis from his post in 2013 amid concerns that he was too eager for military confrontation with the country.
Speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington earlier this year, General Mattis was critical of the Iran nuclear deal but said that it may be the only option given the lack of public appetite for going to war with the country.
He said he believed Iran to be the single biggest threat to peace in the Middle East.
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