TAMPA, FL - Today the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the resignation of its top commander, General James N. Mattis, who plans to retire from the Marine Corps in a matter of months. Mattis is best known for commanding the 1st Marine Division during the opening phases of Operation Iraqi Freedom, but has also been criticized by the media for his outspoken opinions and controversial quotes.
Some believe this to be the reason he was passed over for promotion to Commandant of the Marine Corps in 2010.
General Mattis, 62, is circumspect about his upcoming retirement. "I postponed my retirement to lead CENTCOM, but it’s just time to move on. Years ago I was called to serve my country by means of conferences and briefings, but I feel like, after forty years of that, I've done my duty."
Mattis, pausing in a dead hang to speak with reporters during a set of weighted pull-ups, continued, "Now it's time to admit that two hour update meetings are a young man's game, hang it up, and live out my next sixty years as a private citizen back on the world’s battlefields, away from the constant stress of the office, like Al Gray would do."
Mattis then effortlessly raised his chin above the bar, in spite of the thirty-five pound plate hanging from his dip belt.
The decades on the job have taken their toll on the General, a fact immediately apparent as he shuffles into the first of his day’s many meetings and briefings.
“What have we got today?” Mattis wearily asks his young aide. “Sir, we have Professor Eugene Shirley Blankenship here from the Geopolitical Military Policy Institute to discuss the historical role of local markets and bazaars as tracers in establishing metrics for the effectiveness of counterinsurgency strategies. He’s prepared a hundred slide PowerPoint brief for you.”
A nearby rotund man in a tweed jacket then extended a pudgy hand toward Mattis. A look of revulsion immediately spread across the General's face, after which he sprang upon the wide-eyed sociology professor, hurling him against a wall and holding him there with his forearm pressed tightly against the visiting PhD’s throat. Mattis was in the process of drawing his pistol when he was restrained by CENTCOM deputy commander Vice Admiral Robert Harward, Command Sergeant Major Frank Grippe, and his own aide. After several other staff officers assisted in subduing the aging General, his brow gradually unfurrowed, and he apologized to all present.
“Guess I’m just getting old," Mattis explained.
As he sits in his office hours later, Mattis reflects on how the years have passed by. “When you’re young, it’s nothing to sit through even a four hour meeting. You think ‘oh, I’m only thirty, I’ve got plenty of time left to spend killing the enemy’, or ‘it’s okay, this asshole wasting my time will get shit-canned if I just outlast him, and then I can get back into the field.’ But the hours turn into days, the days turn into weeks, then one day you look up and you’re sixty, still sitting in these goddamn meetings.”
Mattis speaks softly as he slowly grinds one of his knives across a whetstone.
“Eventually, you just have to accept that you’ve reached the limits of what you can do where you are, and it’s time to move on to the next obstacle.”
The upcoming generation of Marine Corps leadership has expressed eagerness to take up the slack left by Mattis’ departure. “We owe a debt to these old Marines,” says Lieutenant Colonel Skip 'Waggles' Wagner, the incoming commander of a Marine fighter attack squadron and recent graduate of the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, “but the fact of the matter is that they’re just not suited to the technological nature of product-driven warfare and modern counterinsurgency.”
General Mattis, who utilizes the radio callsign "Chaos", has repeatedly denied that he has failed to adapt to new technologies, and remains the only living Marine to have killed enemy combatants with non-weapon programs of record, having slit the throat of a former member of the Fedayeen with a large fragment of a broken FEDLOG supply data CD, garroted a Fallujah insurgent with a length of CAT-5 cable being transported to an infantry battalion's communications section, and exsanguinated a foreign fighter from Iran by making a "bone deep" cut down the length of his arm with a laminated cultural smart card bent to form a razor sharp edge.
After running 10 miles with an 80-pound rucksack, General Mattis sits down and takes a break
Mattis admits that the third does not technically indicate a use of technological systems, but notes that he originally attempted to kill the man with a "Phrase-alator" translation device, which shattered after being used to stun the man with a series of softening blows. A planned attempt to crush the skull of a fourth with a “Command Post of the Future” computer was stopped when the general was halted by a civilian field service representative as he attempted to carry it out of a forward Combat Operations Center.
Regarding his plans for retirement, Mattis says he hopes to make more time for his neglected hobbies, which he describes as the study of history and the systematic hunting and killing of enemies “with my own two hands.”
“I’ve got a pretty good area picked out in the [Autonomous Tribal Area] on the border of Pakistan,” said Mattis. “I figure it should take a single well-trained squad of fine young men about a month to have the warlords under their thumbs, you know, as long as they don’t have a bunch of policies restraining them from befriending the people or killing the enemy. I intend to form and lead that squad."
“Like Al Gray would do,” Mattis repeats, staring gravely out his office window at the setting sun.
While somewhat expected, the timing of Mattis' retirement came as a surprise to some, including a few of his colleagues, including General John R. Allen, former CENTCOM deputy and current commander of United States Forces – Afghanistan (USFOR-A).
“Jim’s retiring?” asked Allen, seconds before being cornered by several high-ranking members of the International Security Assistance Force to discuss problems with a Memorandum of Understanding for the joint use of a British civilian curry trailer by Marine aviation personnel at Camp Bastion, immediately followed by a three hour discussion of whether an upcoming joint operation would be best described as mentoring, partnering with, or supporting the Afghan National Security Forces.
“Lucky bastard,” Allen added.