Mattis' appointment would require special approval from Congress - Peter Feaver on NPR
If you're going to make the exception, you want to make the exception for a general that has thought a lot about civil-military relations and has a sophisticated understanding of civilian control, and Jim Mattis meets that test. He's literally co-edited a book on civil-military relations and, full disclosure, I had a chapter in that book. It's been a very difficult time for civil-military relations over the last several years. And having a secretary of defense who's trusted by both the generals and by the White House, could go a long way to smoothing those waters.
Secondly, we have an unconventional administration because President-elect Trump got elected during a campaign in which so many of the senior Republican national security experts signed letters opposing him thus taking themselves out of consideration for a post like this, his pool is smaller than a traditional Republican would have been. And in that smaller pool, Jim Mattis is one of the very, very top names you could come up with.
This is a very dangerous time in geostrategic terms. The next president is inheriting a very difficult national security environment, much more difficult than the one the Obama administration inherited in 2009. And so you really do need the A-Team this time.