President-elect Donald Trump has named retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis as his Secretary of Defense, he announced Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati during his victory tour.
To take the position, Mattis will need Congress to exempt him from a federal law that says secretaries of Defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years. Congress has only done this once before, according to the Post, when it made an exception for Gen. George C. Marshall in 1950.
Mattis, 66, retired three years ago after serving for 44 years in the Marine Corps. He led operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during his career. and has been an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, particularly on the issue of Iran.
Trump has been interviewing a slew of generals for his Cabinet positions in recent days, and Mattis was widely considered a leading contender for the Defense position. The President-elect met with Mattis last week, and tweeted that he was very impressed with the former general.
The official announcement of Mattis’ appointment is expected early next week, according to CNN.