Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Too Look Good, Make Sure Your Enemy Is As Dumb As Bricks

That was some advise that General Mattis gave junior officers at the Distinguished Marine speakers' series at the National Museum of the Marine Corps.


First of all, let me just say that this event was unlike previous Speakers' Series events.  I was expecting 100 or so people, cocktails up at Tun Tavern, move into the Mess Hall for dinner and then file down to the Scuttlebutt Theater for the speaking.  Tonight - - it was a grand event.  Many in attendance were Marines and foreign officers attending one of the professional schools at Quantico, corporate VIPs, and a smattering of civilians such as myself.


When I got there, I was informed that I was to cover General Mattis.  How the heck did I draw that?  Holy Cow!  I will admit I was shaking a bit on my first few shots.  I will include some of my favorite shots of him working the crowd. (Below, gee I think he knows I'm following him).


One thing I regretted not taking with me was my notebook.  He gave a great, down to earth talk about the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.  As I listened I kept thinking - - 'Oh, remember that.' and then he'd say something else and I would be thinking "Remember that too!"  I was kicking myself for not bringing my little point and shoot digital that I can take video.  His speech was peppered with his signature humor that the Marines just loved.  The title comment is case in point.  It was made in reference to the Taliban Generals.

The key word that he stressed and I took away as the theme for his speech was "Trust" and how that played an important roll with our allies in gearing up for the invasion of Afghanistan.  He spoke about how it can take a long time to build that trust and how it can quickly be compromised.  He used the example of intelligence and how for the first 30 days of the invasion, we were sharing with all the allies involved and then all of a sudden orders were given that intel was to only be shared with the British, Canadians and Australians.  This of course angered the other countries involved in the fight.

My impressions of General Mattis are that he is a down to earth guy, very personable.  He worked the crowd before dinner and after he spoke.  He made time to shake hands and have a photo taken with everyone who wanted to meet him.  Yes, I got my photo taken with him and I'll share as soon as my fellow volunteer sends me what he took.

Below, General Mattis speaks with some students at EWS (Expeditionary Warfare School). 


Greeting some foreign military officers who were in attendance.


Speaking with an NCO and Col Dick Camp (ret).


Rubbing elbows with the VIP guests.

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At the end of the evening, posing with the gentlemen that were at my dinner table.


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