Everything You Need to Know About Gen. James Mattis

The retired general is a contender to be defense secretary.

— -- President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday night that he will "appoint" retired Marine Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis to be his secretary of defense.

"We are going to appoint 'Mad Dog' Mattis as our Secretary of Defense," Trump said at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio. "But we're not announcing it till Monday so don't tell anybody. Mad dog. He's great. He is great."

Under the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, certain federal positions appointed by the president -- including secretary of defense -– require confirmation of the U.S. Senate.

After their hourlong meeting in November, President-elect Donald Trump described retired Marine Gen. James Mattis — thought to be a contender for defense secretary — as “the real deal.”

He earned his nicknames Mad Dog and the Warrior Monk for his attention to military tactics and strategy. He is known for his candor and blunt talk, which have at times gotten him into hot water.

Here’s everything you need to know about Mattis:

Name: James N. Mattis

Age: 66 (born Sept. 8, 1950)

Hometown: Pullman, Washington

Family: Single, no children

What he used to do:

2010 to 2013: commander of U.S. Central Command

2007 to 2009: commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command

2006 to 2007: commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force

2005 to 2006: commander of Marine Corps Combat Development Command

2002 to 2004: commander of the 1st Marine Division, led Marine forces into Iraq

Key career moments:

In November 2001, as a brigadier general, Mattis commanded Task Force 58, the first Marine force to enter Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

As a lieutenant colonel during the Persian Gulf War in February 1991, Mattis commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, one of the units that pushed into Kuwait to liberate it from Iraqi troops.

What you might not know about him:

Mattis is known for a singular focus on military history, tactics and strategy, traits that, along with his unmarried status, led to his Warrior Monk nickname. He is said to have a personal library of 7,000 books and during deployments often took with him “Meditations of Marcus Aurelius,” quotes from the Roman emperor and stoic philosopher. His Mad Dog nickname appears to be a reference to his combative nature on and off the battlefield.

In April, Mattis said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, “The Iranian regime, in my mind, is the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.” He added, “Among all the issues facing us in the Middle East, I think Iran is actually foremost. And yet at the same time, it appears here in Washington that we’ve forgotten how to keep certain issues foremost.”

In the same speech, he criticized Barack Obama’s administration for being naive about Teheran’s intentions in agreeing to the Iranian nuclear deal. But he was at odds with those who favor scrapping the deal. “We are going to have to recognize that we have an imperfect arms control agreement,” he said. “What we achieved was a nuclear pause, not a nuclear halt. We’re going to have to plan for the worst.”