They don’t call him James “Mad Dog” Mattis for nothing.
The new secretary of defense spent his first full day on the job Saturday overseeing 31 military strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. These included targeted runs from fighters, bombers, and remote-operated drones.
The airstrikes are part of an ongoing military campaign called Operation Inherent Resolve that aims to destroy ISIS.
The Department of Defense said the attacks in Syria included two strikes near Bab, which engaged an ISIS tactical unit, destroyed an artillery piece and damaged a tactical vehicle; 22 strikes near Raqqa, which engaged 12 ISIS tactical units and destroyed nine fighting positions, two tunnels, two tanks, an improvised bomb factory and an ISIS headquarters; and a strike near Dayr Az Zawr that destroyed two oil well heads.
In Iraq, the attacks included a strike near Rutbah, which engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a tactical vehicle, two weapons caches and a mortar; a strike near Beiji, which destroyed an ISIS tactical unit and a vehicle; a strike near Kisik, which destroyed a vehicle and an ISIS-held building; two strikes near Mosul, which engaged two ISIS tactical units and destroyed a vehicle-borne-bomb factory, a vehicle-borne bomb, a tank, three fighting positions and a vehicle; and a strike near Tal Afar, which engaged an ISIS tactical unit and destroyed a semi-truck and a command-and-control node.
In a letter sent to DoD employees under his command after his swearing in, the secretary of defense outlined how he plans to lead the Pentagon.
“It’s good to be back and I’m grateful to serve alongside you as Secretary of Defense,” Mattis wrote. “Together with the Intelligence Community we are the sentinels and guardians of our nation. We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country. You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.”
He said he is also determined to restore the American military to its former might.
“Every action we take will be designed to ensure our military is ready to fight today and in the future.” Mattis wrote. “Recognizing that no nation is secure without friends, we will work with the State Department to strengthen our alliances. Further, we are devoted to gaining full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, thereby earning the trust of Congress and the American people.”
One of the Trump administration’s top priorities has been the destruction of ISIS.