57+ Best James Mattis Quotes: Exclusive Selection

James Norman Mattis is an American veteran and former government official who served as the 26th United States Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through January 2019. Profoundly inspirational James Mattis quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

Famous James Mattis Quotes

Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet. – James Mattis

Be the hunter, not the hunted: Never allow your unit to be caught with its guard down. – James Mattis

We can kill lots of people. We do kill lots of people. We can destroy virtually anything we choose to destroy. – James Mattis

General [James] Mattis’s primary experience – indeed, his only experience – is as a member of the United States Marine Corps, where he served for 41 years. That’s his experience. – James Mattis

Anyone who kills women and children is not devout. ISIS cannot dress themselves up in false religious garb and say that somehow this message has dignity. We’re going to strip them of any kind of legitimacy. – James Mattis

2017 is going to be another tough year for the valiant Afghan Security Forces and the international troops who have stood and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Afghanistan against terrorism. – James Mattis

The American people and the American military will never get used to civilian casualties. And we will – we will fight against that every way we can possibly bring our intelligence and our tactics to bear. We’re not the perfect guys, but we are the good guys. – James Mattis

The importance of strengthening Euro-Atlantic security: the growing dangers pile pressure on our rules-based international system, so we need to do more to strengthen NATO, the bedrock of our defense – not just upping spending, but making the alliance more agile and more capable of tackling dangers from all directions. – James Mattis

I think as we look at this problem of ISIS, it’s more than just an army. It’s also a fight about ideas. And we have got to dry up their recruiting. We have got to dry up their fundraising. The way we intend to do it is to humiliate them, to divorce them from any nation giving them protection, and humiliating their message of hatred, of violence. Anyone who kills women and children is not devout. They have – they cannot dress themselves up in false religious garb and say that somehow this message has dignity. – James Mattis

The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. – James Mattis

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 front with you, I like brawling. – James Mattis

I find it disturbing that no member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is willing to acknowledge that record of failure and to ask our next secretary of defense what he proposes to do to amend that sorry record. – James Mattis

Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. – James Mattis

I can’t imagine that I would be asked that by the president-elect [Donald Trump], or then-president [Barack Obama]. But it’s – I’m very clear. I voted for the change that put the Army Field Manual in place as a member of Congress. I understand that law very, very quickly and am also deeply aware that any changes to that will come through Congress and the president. – James Mattis

Right now, Russia’s future should be wedded to Europe. Why they see NATO as a threat is beyond me. Clearly, NATO is not a threat. – James Mattis

We do not draw red lines unless we intend to carry them out. We have made very clear that we are willing to work with China, and we believe China has tried to be helpful. – James Mattis

North Korea is a direct threat to the United States. They have been very clear in their rhetoric we don’t have to wait until they have an intercont- intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon on it to say that now it’s manifested completely. – James Mattis

We do everything humanly possible, consistent with military necessity, taking many chances to avoid civilian casualties, at all costs. – James Mattis

Congressman [Mike] Pompeo said he believes the intelligence agencies’ claims that Russia hacked the US election. – James Mattis

Yousef Aid Ahmed has memorized the places where his four brothers’ bodies laid after they were killed by US marines, he said. The family recounts that November day in 2005 and says it was a massacre of the brothers, along with 20 other people, following a roadside bomb in Haditha. – James Mattis

There is no corporation in the world that would, in a competitive environment, try and concentrate all decisions at the corporate level. – James Mattis

Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun. – James Mattis

Treachery has existed as long as there’s been warfare, and there’s always been a few people that you couldn’t trust. – James Mattis

I would consider the principal threats to start with Russia, and it would certainly include any nations that are looking to intimidate nations around their periphery, regional nations nearby them, whether it be with weapons of mass destruction or, I would call it, unusual, unorthodox means of intimidating them, that sort of thing. – James Mattis

We face now an era where we’re going to be fighting the terrorist threat. I mean, that’s simply a reality we are going to have to address that one. – James Mattis

A country that armed Stalin to defeat Hitler can certainly work alongside enemies of al-Qaida to defeat al-Qaida. – James Mattis

Our strategy right now is to accelerate the campaign against ISIS. It is a threat to all civilized nations. – James Mattis

Our world is becoming darker. The dangers are increasing from North Korea, whose recent provocation underscored the need to impose a higher price on this rogue regime, a problem that is not just the United States alone, but a problem for us all. – James Mattis

What concerned me was that [James Mattis] played not only a critical role as a battlefield commander in Fallujah, but also, afterwards, when he was promoted to various other higher-ranking positions, he served as a convening authority in court-martial proceedings against various marines who had been accused of atrocities – for example, in the Haditha massacre, where a group of marines went on a killing spree after one in their unit was killed. – James Mattis

In a country with millions of people & cars going everywhere, the enemy is going to get a car bomb out there once in a while. – James Mattis

I think the core problem is much closer to recognizing where force is of value, where it is useful, and to distinguish that from situations in which war is not useful or is indeed counterproductive. – James Mattis

The destruction that we have wreaked in the various theaters in which we’ve been engaged is really quite astonishing. But again, lethality, destruction, killing doesn’t seem to achieve our objectives. So, my own sense is that a lack of lethality does not define the core problem. – James Mattis

What would you do differently as defense secretary to compensate for this record in which the greatest military in the world, as we are constantly told, doesn’t get the job done? – James Mattis

I don’t see lethality as the problem. I mean, the lethality of US forces is quite remarkable. – James Mattis

I think, broadly speaking, the US military’s role – US military activism in various parts of the Islamic world over the past several decades has been counterproductive. – James Mattis

The United States has been essentially engaged in an ongoing war that most people date from 2001. That war has taken us to Afghanistan, to Iraq, in a lesser way to other countries – Libya, Somalia, Yemen. – James Mattis

With respect to the outlines of what’s in the Army Field Manual, there’s no doubt in my mind about the limitations it places not only on the DOD, but on the Central Intelligence Agency. And I’ll always comply with the law. – James Mattis

We are going to have to continue to keep the pressure on the enemy. There is no room for complacency on this. – James Mattis

Nothing keeps me awake at night. I keep other people awake at night. – James Mattis

The most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears. – James Mattis

Find the enemy that wants to end this experiment (in American democracy) and kill every one of them until they’re so sick of the killing that they leave us and our freedoms intact. – James Mattis

You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon. – James Mattis

PowerPoint makes us stupid. – James Mattis

There are hunters and there are victims. By your discipline…you will decide if you are a hunter or a victim. – James Mattis

I don’t lose any sleep at night over the potential for failure. I cannot even spell the word. – James Mattis

You can overcome wrong technology. Your people have the initiative, they see the problem, no big deal … you can’t overcome bad culture. You’ve gotta change whoever is in charge. – James Mattis

I just hope we can find our way back to engaging with one another, arguing strongly with one another, and then going down and having a root beer together or something and – and having a good laugh about it as we work together for the best interests of the next generation of Americans who are going to inherit this country. – James Mattis

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 a lot of fun to fight. You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you — I like brawling. – James Mattis

If in order to kill the enemy you have to kill an innocent, don’t take the shot. Don’t create more enemies than you take out by some immoral act. – James Mattis

There are some people who think you have to hate them in order to shoot them. I don’t think you do. It’s just business. – James Mattis

There is nothing better than getting shot at and missed. It’s really great. – James Mattis

You’ve been told that you’re broken. That you’re damaged goods … there is also Post-Traumatic Growth. You come back from war stronger and more sure of who you are. – James Mattis

Fight with a happy heart and strong spirit. – James Mattis

No war is over until the enemy says it’s over. We may think it over, we may declare it over, but in fact, the enemy gets a vote. – James Mattis

You cannot allow any of your people to avoid the brutal facts. If they start living in a dream world, it’s going to be bad. – James Mattis

It is mostly a matter of wills. Whose will is going to break first? Ours or the enemy’s? – James Mattis

An untrained or uneducated Marine deployed to the combat zone is a bigger threat to mission accomplishment than the enemy. – James Mattis

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