I served with James Mattis. Here's what I learned from him.

Mattis stood. As always, he spoke without notes, having long ago memorized everything.

“Gentlemen, this is going to be the most air-centric division in the history of warfare. Don’t you worry about the lack of shaping; if we need to kill something, it is going to get killed. I would storm the gates of Hell if Third Marine Air Wing was overhead.”

He looked toward the back of the cavernous room, and spoke loud, clear, and confident, hands on his hips.

“There is one way to have a short but exciting conversation with me,” he continued, “and that is to move too slow. Gentlemen, this is not a marathon, this is a sprint. In about a month, I am going to go forward of our Marines up to the border between Iraq and Kuwait. And when I get there, one of two things is going to happen. Either the commander of the Fifty-First Mechanized Division is going to surrender his army in the field to me, or he and all his guys are going to die.”

Nothing much else needed to be said after that.