By Amb. Brian Carlson
"The Administration’s intention to put General James Mattis in charge of the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) is the best thing to happen to the State Department since General George C. Marshall showed up in Foggy Bottom to become Secretary of State.
Mattis is one of the "outliers" — one of the few top commanders who understand that America’s enemies will not be defeated in a pitched battle on a field, but rather through the slow change of hearts and minds around dinner tables and tribal councils in countries in conflict.
General Mattis used to lead the "Pinnacle" seminars at Joint Forces Command in Norfolk. Pinnacle is the week-long, intensive leadership grooming for two- and three-star officers who are thought most likely to rise to the very top in the near future. Indeed, General Stan McChrystal was a participant in one of the Pinnacle courses where I was the State Department representative. The free-flowing and candid discussions between these senior, achievement-oriented military officers and a select group of current and former senior Administration national security officials is designed to get the participants thinking about all the levers of national power that may one day be in their hands. Pinnacle is the kind of rigorous intellectual preparation that you can only dream of State giving to its senior officers and future ambassadors, be they career or political appointees.