Donald Trump's reported top pick for the secretary of Defense, former Gen. James Mattis, has a history of comments critical of allowing women and LGBT people to serve in the military.
Mattis, who was fired in 2013 by President Barack Obama for being "too hawkish on Iran," coedited the book of essays Warriors & Citizens: American Views of Our Military, which was published in August. Kori N. Schake, who served as the McCain-Palin campaign's senior policy adviser, also oversaw the volume's publication.
In the text, the editors warn that the 2011 repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" has had a harmful impact on the military.
"We fear that an uninformed public is permitting political leaders to impose an accretion of social conventions that are diminishing the combat power of our military," Mattis and Schake write.
The pair accused Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen of pushing a "progressive agenda" that imposes "social change" on the military. In reality, "don't ask, don't tell" was rescinded after "extended" consultation, preparation, and training sessions with members of the U.S. armed forces, as The New York Times reported.
Although Gallup polls showed that the repeal of the 1994 law was widely popular, with 67 percent supporting the right of gays to serve openly, Mattis and Schake claimed that 57 percent of soldiers were in favor of keeping gay, lesbian, and bisexual members of the armed forces in the closet.
Mattis, known for his off-color remarks, has also raised eyebrows for his thoughts on women in the military, who he believes are unsuited for "intimate killing."
During a speech delivered at the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco, Mattis claimed that allowing women to serve in the armed forces is "not setting them up for success." While he believes that female soldiers are able to perform the routine physical tasks required, he claimed that those who fight for gender inclusion don't know what they're talking about.
He added that "only ... someone who never crossed the line of departure into close encounters fighting" would ever advocate for allowing women to serve in combat.
Mattis believes that women are not only psychologically unable to handle the horrors of war but that the sexual temptation is too much to bear. The former general has said the military, which allowed women to serve in ground forces as of last year, is putting "healthy young men and women together and we expect them to act like little saints."
The 66-year-old is just one of several candidates vetted by the president-elect. Trump also met with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, who was an army captain before becoming an Arkansas senator, and Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser under President George W. Bush.
If Mattis is confirmed as the secretary of Defense, it could endanger not only the future of women and gays in the military but also roll back the recent progress on transgender inclusion. In June, the military formally ended the ban on allowing trans people to serve after years of discussion, a likely component of the "social change" Mattis opposes.
Trump has referred to Mattis, with whom he sat down over the Thanksgiving holiday, as a "general's general" and the "real deal."