A hard-charging retired general legendary among troops as a Marine’s Marine has been tapped by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as secretary of defense.

Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, who was overall commander of forces in the Middle East when he retired in 2013, is known for his attention and dedication to his troops, as well as his grasp of strategy and his intense preparedness on the job. Trump announced his pick yesterday at a rally in Cincinnati.

“He’s just a natural leader — there’s a reason why every single Marine absolutely loves that guy,” said former Marine Sgt. Chris Lessard, an Iraq combat vet and program director of Massachusetts Fallen Heroes. “I think what most people are going to like from a military standpoint is his lack of being politically correct. He’s a smart, sharp guy.”

“He is an impressive man from top to bottom,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tad Oelstrom, the director of the National Security Program at Harvard University. “He is extremely focused. Probably one of the best things you can say about him is he is extremely well read. I don’t think he’s ever walked into a problem without knowing more than anybody else in the room about the problem.”

Confirming the leaked news last night, Trump said, “Don’t let it outside the room, you promise? We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it until Monday, so don’t tell anybody. Mad Dog! He is great.”

Mattis commanded the 1st Marine Division in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and headed U.S. Central Command, overseeing the Middle East, from 2010 to 2013. In addition to Senate confirmation, his appointment would need special legislation. Current rules require the secretary of defense to have been out of the military at least seven years.

Meanwhile, Trump used the kickoff of his “thank you tour” in Cincinnati, last night to mock the “extremely dishonest press” and brag about his shocking election night victory.

“Folks, how many times did we hear this — ‘There is no path to 270. … There is no path for Donald Trump,’ ” said Trump, imitating a news anchor. ” ‘Texas is in play.’ Do you remember that one?”

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