…the people you meet “over there.”
I had the pleasure of meeting briefly with General Mattis in Kabul in 2010. I was temporarily in charge of NTMA’s Joint Visitor’s Bureau at Camp Eggers. There was an opening for a deputy commander in the Regional Support Command North and I was waiting for my replacement. General Mattis came in for a VIP visit. I was of course familiar with who he was. I was also interested in a member of his entourage. Author Steven Pressfield filled the roll of civilian advisor to General Mattis. And yes, I got Pressfield to sign the book I had read on the plane ride over.
Mattis impressed me again today with his plain-spoken testimony, taking complex systems and breaking them down in a way that even I can understand.
Mattis is a master of language and social cues. This is of course true of most people at that level. He does manage to make you feel like you are the only one in the room. In our brief meeting, he asked for a brief auto-biography, civilian occupation, and my thoughts of our mission. I was guarded, of course. I was not about to be put completely at ease in the presence of a four-star general. Never-the-less, he is quite disarming, I have to give him that.
Two weeks later, I was on a plane heading to Mazer i-Sharif to take up my new assignment. Good times, good times…