19 unforgettable quotes from legendary Marine Gen. James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis

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AP Photo/Matt Dunham

President-elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James Mattis to be secretary of defense, according to sources who spoke to The Washington Post. And while an official announcement is not expected until early next week, one thing is certain: Mattis is eminently quotable.

The 66-year-old retired four-star general met with Trump on November 19 to discuss a possible job offer as defense secretary, and a large portion of DC is rallying behind him.

Mattis is something of a legendary figure in the US military. Viewed as a warrior among Marines and respected by members of other services, he has been at the forefront of numerous engagements.

If you look back on his storied 44-year career leading Marines in battle, and the many colorful quotes he has given over the years, it's pretty easy to see why.

We've gathered some of Mattis' best sayings, taken from this San Diego Union-Tribune profile (archived with the Wayback Machine) unless otherwise specified.

Geoffrey Ingersoll contributed reporting on a previous version of this article.

"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."

via Department of Defense

Mattis has often talked to Marine leaders about staying sharp.

The "dream world" he mentioned is a reference to a complacent attitude, and it's one that can cost lives if troops aren't vigilant.

"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."

via Dvidshub

As a coauthor of the military's counterinsurgency manual (with retired Army Gen. David Petraeus), Mattis has often spoken about following the rules of engagement and being disciplined against a ruthless enemy.

"I come in peace. I didn't bring artillery. But I'm pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f— with me, I'll kill you all."

via Department of Defense

After the initial Iraq invasion, "Chaos" (his radio call sign) sent home his tanks and artillery and used the "carrot and the stick" with Iraqi tribal leaders.

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