In combat chaplains aren’t given branch-specific duty. That’s why I prayed over your dead, and with your infantry, and with your armor, and why I led services for your Seals and your guards.
It’s just the way it works.
Coming into the discussion, late......Very good points by all. Mattis is no doubt a fearless warrior with a supreme intellect, and a leader that many Marines would be honored to serve under. But his handling of the Haditha case seemed flawed at best.
The presiding judge for LtCol Chessani’s Undue Command Influence motion hearing found that there was not only an appearance of UCI, but it could possibly be proven if further investigation was made, that actual UCI did occur. Mattis never took responsibility for his error in judgement in how the Haditha case against the 8 Marines was handled.
The Haditha case came at a critical juncture in the debate over the appropriate Rules of Engagement in Iraq. Mattis seemed to go along with the emerging counterinsurgency approach of “winning hearts and minds” strategy as being more important than the “have a plan to kill everyone you meet” strategy he advocated early on in Iraq. We can see how successful these current ROE’s are working in Afghanistan.
The effect of how these Haditha Marines were treated by our military, by the press, by certain members in Congress was not lost on Marines in theater. They were well aware that they, too, could be thrown under the bus, have their lives/careers destroyed, and their families’ resources dessimated trying to defend themselves should they placed in a similar situation. Hesitation under fire leads to casualties.
So, while Mattis may be outstanding, compared to other generals obama could choose from, he will always be connected with the appearance of Undue of Command Influence (railroading) associated with the handling of Lt Col Chessani’s charges. He will always bear the responsibility for the outcome from the Haditha Marines’ charges.