Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
Mattis was addressing Marines, who are known for being a bit nuts and absolutely bursting with bravado compared to your typical Army rankers, and he put his message in terms they would understand and respect. He was basically telling them that when they were out on patrol, they needed to treat the locals with respect, dignity, and humility - but to simultaneously be aware that any one of the civilians they interact with might secretly be a rebel blending in and waiting for them to let their guard down, and to therefor be vigilant and always plan ahead for the possibility of things turning ugly without warning.By pretty much all accounts, Mattis is a good general and a decent person. He opposes torture and advocates diplomacy first and foremost. He was well liked by his men, well liked by his fellow officers, and seems to have no real enemies or rivals. He is level headed, conscientious, competant, and thorough.That said, the concern with Mattis being nominated Secretary of Defense is that he's a soldier through and through, and he doesn't actually have any experience as a statesman or policymaker, making him ill-suited to the position. He'll likely need to delegate quite a lot of day to day operations to more suited individuals, and would do best to step back and do what he does best - command and oversee.
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