Secretary of Defence nominee James Mattis is grilled in Senate hearing over his views on women and LGBT in the army

The retired general and soon-to-be defense secretary said as recently as 2015 that men and women should not be expected to act as ‘little saints'

Rachael Revesz
New York
Thursday 12 January 2017 18:54 GMT
James Mattis grilled over views on women and LGBT in the army

Donald Trump’s incoming defense secretary James Mattis was grilled by several women senators over his controversial personal views surrounding women and LGBT people serving in the military.

At his senate confirmation hearing, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand quoted the retired general's 2015 speech that “when you mix arrows, and you mix affection for one another that could be manifested sexually, I don’t care where you go history, you will not find where this has worked”.

She then asked him whether he had changed his view.

"I have no plans to oppose women in any aspect of our military,” he said. ”In 2003 I had hundreds of marines who happened to be women [...] that was 10 years before I retired and I put them on the front lines along with everyone else."

"Mad Dog" General Mattis said he did not have an agenda and was simply looking for "military readiness".

Although he said he had "no immediate plans" to roll back the allowing of women and LGBT military members, his refusal to openly defend their right to be included in the army and marines could worry civil rights campaigners.

General Mattis was also questioned on his book, Warriors and Citizens: American Views of our Military, and his views about opposing LGBT people in the military, which could "accrue risk" and "diminish the power of our military".

He responded: "My belief is that we have to stay focused on a military that is so lethal that on the battlefield it will be the enemy’s longest day and their worst day when they run into that force. I believe that the military service is a touchstone for patriots of whatever stripe."

When pressed if he therefore believed that LGBT people diminished the lethality of the military, he responded: "Frankly, senator, I’ve never cared much about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with."

Ms Gillibrand was sharply told by senator John McCain to “respect the rules of the senate” when she went over time by a few seconds, while asking General Mattis to provide written proof that he would continue to allow women and LGBT people to serve.

Missouri senator Claire McCaskill first asked him at the hearing about his views on men and women working together.

He told her that as long as applicants meet the expected standards, “that's the end of the discussion”.

James Mattis says mixing genders and sexuality in army 'shows a lack of respect'

At a veteran event in 2015, he pointed out his colleague had a beard and joked that "we were shooting people like that a short time ago". In the same speech, he outlined his opposition to women who, he said, would lead to "reduced standards" in the army.

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