James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis voices his love for Canadian troops

In contrast to Trump’s tough talk for his NATO allies, Harjit Sajjan has positive meeting with U.S. defence secretary

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan stand for the National Anthem of the United States during an Honor Cordon at the Pentagon., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan stand for the National Anthem of the United States during an Honor Cordon at the Pentagon., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

WASHINGTON – A first meeting between Donald Trump’s defence secretary and his Canadian counterpart began well on Monday — so well that, within just a few seconds, there was already talk of kissing and hugging.

Newly sworn-in U.S. defence secretary James Mattis says he’s so grateful for Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan he could have smooched them on sight.

At a meeting at the Pentagon, the retired general — nicknamed “Mad Dog” — said there’s a reason his first phone call to a foreign counterpart was to Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan. The U.S. and Canadian military have been close allies since the Second World War, he said, and he experienced that bond personally in Afghanistan.

He noted that his own unit in Kandahar was relieved by Canadian soldiers from Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.

“They were a welcome sight,” Mattis said as the meeting with Sajjan began.

“There was, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ in those days,” he said, referring to the now-discarded U.S. policy on gays and lesbians in the military.

“(But) I was hugging and kissing every one of you guys coming off the plane.”

He said the lives lost in the Afghan conflict have created a permanent bond between the countries. He also applauded Canada’s humanitarian efforts: “Your pledge to do a lot of leadership, whether it be in humanitarian ops, in battle groups, in reassurance efforts, we’re proud as all get-out of you and your forces and what they’ve stood up and delivered.”

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The message from Mattis was striking in its difference from that of his boss. At a separate event Monday, the president said he expects allies to start doing their fair share and spending more on their military.

Canada spends less on its military as a share of its economy than almost any member of NATO.

Sajjan was at the Pentagon for what was scheduled to be a 45-minute discussion on a broad range of topics including military co-operation both abroad and closer to home. Key questions were expected to include the ongoing commitment to NATO, defence spending levels, and peacekeeping operations.

The Canadian government delayed a planned peacekeeping deployment to Africa following the U.S. election, saying it wanted to first discuss a variety of global issues with its closest ally.

Trump’s election has prompted uncertainty on several military fronts — he has suggested NATO is becoming obsolete, while at the same time demanding that NATO allies increase defence spending.

He repeated his complaints about NATO spending during a speech Monday at an air force base in Florida.

Trump said he supports NATO, but countries must pay their share.

“We only ask that all of the NATO members make their full and proper financial contributions to the NATO alliance, which many of them have not been doing,” he said.

Trump has also been more supportive than his predecessor of Russia, which has caused anxiety in Eastern Europe.

Trump has sowed uncertainty on several defence issues. He’s complained about the cost of the F-35, a staple of the U.S. fighter-jet program. Also, in his inauguration speech Trump heaped scorn on the U.S. habit of defending other countries.

Mattis spent last weekend in Asia, reassuring traditional U.S. allies. During the campaign, the president questioned why the U.S. should spend money securing Japan and South Korea — he went as far as to suggest, at one point, that they should get their own nuclear weapons.

Trump later dialled that back. But he said he wants allies spending more on defence. That was also the policy of the previous Obama administration and the former president even made that request in Canada’s Parliament.

It’s unclear where that conversation goes now.

Canada is 23rd among 27 NATO countries in terms of spending as a share of GDP. Canada’s 2016 spending of 0.99 per cent of GDP was less than half the NATO guideline of two per cent, which only five NATO countries currently meet.

One Canadian-American military analyst said it’s important to watch what Mattis says, while remembering he’s not the boss: “(There’s) the caveat of: I don’t believe anything that Mattis says binds this administration,” said Steve Saideman of Carleton University.

“Mattis is in the outer circle — and has been bypassed on major issues.”


James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis voices his love for Canadian troops

  1. Mattison is in inner circle and is definatly not out of loop.Reminds me of CNN , shouldn’t get your news sources from them,your job is to report News without the Spin,we can add our own spin.We don’t need no mind nor thought control, clean up your act ,sensationalism can be reached without the taunting and negativity.

  2. How does Canada’s military spending compare to other countries on a per capita basis? A lot of other NATO countries have much larger populations than Canada. Is there any credit being given for the humanitarian work that our military does across the countries where NATO is engaged?

  3. This photo is very telling Harjit Sajjan with his hand over his heart in a typical American gesture. He does not have to do it since he is Canadian but is willing to go to extremes to please Americans, he appears to be very compliant. This does not bode well at all for our Sovereignty. He has been told to increase our defence spending and now back in Canada that is all he is talking about. Can’t wait for PMJT to meet Trump, that will be also very telling of our colonial status vis a vis the USA.

  4. Ret. General “Mad Dog” Mattis is well known for colourful statements. One of his most quoted goes something like: Be professional, be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet. There are a lot more like that. Try Google… some of them are pretty good. Mad Dog Mattis seems to be the least controversial, most sane, and most stable member of Trump’s cabinet.


    The personal connection with the Canadian forces is good. Being the ones that relieved him in Kandahar is better. It might matter down the road.

    As for the NATO/GDP thing, as much as I despised Harper I do have to admit he was right when he said it’s not how much you spend but rather how much you get done. We seem to get a lot done. We could quite easily ramp up spending to over 2% of GDP simply be conscripting everyone on welfare into the reserves and training them with obsolete rifles. Not uncommon with some NATO members. Wouldn’t help our armed forces get any more done though.

    That said, I would not be opposed to ramping up spending on the military in the next little while, not because Trump asked but rather what he might blunder us into. We appear to be living in interesting times.

    • Can’t resist:

      “You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.”

      Gen Mad Dog Mattis (ret)… the sane one.

    • “I’m going to plead with you, do not cross us. Because if you do, the survivors will write about what we do here for 10,000 years.”

      Gen Mad Dog Mattis (ret)… the one people hope will stop Trump from blundering into a stupid war.