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Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead Kindle Edition
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“An instructive and entertaining leadership manual for executives, managers, and military officers . . . Mattis is a gifted storyteller.”—Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic
“Combining simplicity and thoughtfulness, Jim Mattis has produced a classic account of a lifetime of service. Call Sign Chaos is a lesson in leadership and an evocation of humanity in the cause of peace.”—Henry Kissinger
“In this magnificent memoir, Jim Mattis details many important events in his career, but he also does much more: He explains how he is informed by his experiences in a way that teaches you how to learn from your own. Read, enjoy, and learn.”—George Shultz
“A recurring theme in Call Sign Chaos is the need to understand the world beyond one’s immediate discipline. . . . The result is an engaging, insightful study of leadership.”—The Wall Street Journal
“His book is a compendium of circumstances often beyond his control. What makes it a compelling read is how this warriormonk dealt with and learned from the jams he found himself in.”—NPR
“The book’s main concerns . . . are the practical and ethical challenges of military leadership. Mattis draws on his deep professionalism and knowledge of military history in describing the stress of battle and the tough decision to send soldiers into the field to kill and be killed.”—Foreign Affairs
“In Call Sign Chaos, James Mattis shares a lifetime of learning from wars that failed to offer a better tomorrow. We need to take his lessons and do better in the future.”—New Statesman
“A leadership book that should be deeply studied and absorbed . . . Since he focuses on the three levels of leadership: direct, executive, and strategic . . . the book has a place in service academies and ROTC programs, as well as basic, advanced, intermediate level and senior service college professional military education institutions.”—Small Wars Journal
“The book will cement Mattis’s own place in the pantheon of military reading lists. . . . A nuanced discussion of leadership and democracy.”—Proceedings: U.S. Naval Institute
“By presenting his own hard-earned insights on effective leadership qualities, Mattis encourages fellow Americans themselves to think more explicitly about leadership benchmarks applicable to civilians and the military alike.”—Washington Independent Review of Books
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
In late November 2016, I was enjoying Thanksgiving break in my hometown on the Columbia River in Washington State when I received an unexpected call from Vice President–elect Pence. Would I meet with President-elect Trump to discuss the job of Secretary of Defense of the United States? I had taken no part in the election campaign and had never met or spoken to Mr. Trump, so to say that I was surprised is an understatement. Further, I knew that, absent a congressional waiver, federal law prohibited a former military officer from serving as Secretary of Defense within seven years of departing military service. Given that no waiver had been authorized since General George Marshall was made secretary in 1950, and I’d been out for only three and a half years, I doubted I was a viable candidate. Nonetheless, I flew to Bedminster, New Jersey, for the interview.
I had time on the cross-country flight to ponder how to encapsulate my view of America’s role in the world. On my flight out of Denver, the flight attendant’s standard safety briefing caught my attention: If cabin pressure is lost, masks will drop. . . . Put your own mask on first, then help others around you. . . . We’ve all heard it many times, but in that moment, these familiar words seemed like a metaphor: to preserve our leadership role, we needed to get our own country’s act together first, especially if we were to help others.
The next day I was driven to the Trump National Golf Club and, entering a side door, waited about twenty minutes before I was ushered into a modest conference room. I was introduced to the President-elect, the Vice President–elect, the chief of staff, and a handful of others. We talked about the state of our military, where our views aligned and where they differed. In our forty-minute conversation, Mr. Trump led the wide-ranging discussion, and the tone was amiable. Afterward, the President-elect escorted me out to the front steps of the colonnaded clubhouse, where the press was gathered. I assumed that I would be on my way back to Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where I’d spent the past few years doing research and guest lecturing around the country, and was greatly enjoying my time. I figured that my strong support of NATO and my dismissal of the use of torture on prisoners would have the President-elect looking for another candidate. Standing beside him on the steps as photographers snapped away and shouted questions, I was surprised for the second time that week when he characterized me to the reporters as “the real deal.” Days later, I was formally nominated. That was when I realized that, subject to a congressional waiver and Senate consent, I would not be returning to Stanford’s beautiful, vibrant campus.
During the interview, Mr. Trump had asked me if I could do the job of Secretary of Defense. I said I could. I’d never aspired to the job, and took the opportunity to suggest several other candidates I thought highly capable of leading our defense. Still, having been raised by the Greatest Generation, by two parents who had served in World War II, and subsequently shaped by more than four decades in the Marine Corps, I considered government service to be both honor and duty. In my view, when the President asks you to do something, you don’t play Hamlet on the wall, wringing your hands. To quote a great American athletic company’s slogan, you “just do it.” So long as you are prepared, you say yes.
When it comes to the defense of our experiment in democracy and our way of life, ideology should have nothing to do with it. Whether asked to serve by a Democrat or a Republican, you serve. “Politics ends at the water’s edge.” This ethos has shaped and defined me, and I wasn’t going to betray it no matter how much I was enjoying my life west of the Rockies and spending time with a family I had neglected during my forty-plus years in the Marines.
When I said I could do the job, I meant I felt prepared. By happenstance, I knew the job intimately. In the late 1990s, I had served as the executive secretary to two Secretaries of Defense, William Perry and William Cohen. I had also served as the senior military assistant to Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon. In close quarters, I had gained a personal grasp of the immensity and gravity of a “SecDef’s” responsibilities. The job is tough: our first Secretary of Defense committed suicide, and few have emerged from the job unscathed, either legally or politically.
We were at war, amid the longest continuous stretch of armed conflict in our nation’s history. I’d signed enough letters to next of kin about the death of a loved one to understand the consequential aspects of leading a department on a war footing when the rest of the country was not. Its millions of devoted troops and civilians spread around the world carried out their mission with a budget larger than the gross domestic products of all but two dozen nations. On a personal level, I had no great desire to return to Washington, D.C. I drew no energy from the turmoil and politics that animate our capital. Yet I didn’t feel inundated by the job’s immensities. I also felt confident that I could gain bipartisan support for Defense despite the political fratricide practiced in Washington.
In late December, I flew into Washington, D.C., to begin the Senate confirmation process.
This book is about how my career in the Marines brought me to this moment and prepared me to say yes to a job of this magnitude. The Marines teach you, above all, how to adapt, improvise, and overcome. But they expect you to have done your homework, to have mastered your profession. Amateur performance is anathema, and the Marines are bluntly critical of falling short, satisfied only with 100 percent effort and commitment. Yet over the course of my career, every time I made a mistake—and I made many—the Marines promoted me. They recognized that those mistakes were part of my tuition and a necessary bridge to learning how to do things right. Year in and year out, the Marines had trained me in skills they knew I needed, while educating me to deal with the unexpected.
Beneath its Prussian exterior of short haircuts, crisp uniforms, and exacting standards, the Corps nurtured some of the strangest mavericks and most original thinkers I would encounter in my journey through multiple commands, dozens of countries, and many college campuses. The Marines’ military excellence does not suffocate intellectual freedom or substitute regimented thinking for imaginative solutions. They know their doctrine, often derived from lessons learned in combat and written in blood, but refuse to let that turn into dogma. Woe to the unimaginative one who, in after-action reviews, takes refuge in doctrine. The critiques in the field, in the classroom, or at happy hour are blunt for good reason. Personal sensitivities are irrelevant. No effort is made to ease you through your midlife crisis when peers, seniors, or subordinates offer more cunning or historically proven options, even when out of step with doctrine.
In any organization, it’s all about selecting the right team. The two qualities I was taught to value most in selecting others for promotion or critical roles were initiative and aggressiveness. I looked for those hallmarks in those I served alongside. Institutions get the behaviors they reward. Marines have no institutional confusion about their mission: they are a ready naval force designed to fight well in any clime or place, then return to their own society as better citizens. That ethos has created a force feared by foes and embraced by allies the world over, because the Marines reward initiative aggressively implemented.
During my monthlong preparation for the Senate confirmation hearings, I read many excellent intelligence briefings. I was struck by the degree to which our competitive military edge was eroding, including our technological advantage. We would have to focus on regaining the edge. I had been fighting terrorism in the Middle East during my last decade of military service. During that time and in the three years since I had left active duty, haphazard funding had significantly worsened the situation, doing more damage to our current and future military readiness than any enemy in the field.
I could see that the background drummed into me as a Marine would need to be adapted to fit my role as a civilian secretary. The formulation of policy—from defining the main threats to our country to adapting the military’s education, budget, and selection of leaders to address the swiftly changing character of war—would place new demands on me. It now became even more clear to me why the Marines assign an expanded reading list to everyone promoted to a new rank: that reading gives historical depth that lights the path ahead. Slowly but surely, we learned there was nothing new under the sun: properly informed, we weren’t victims—we could always create options. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B07SBRFVNH
- Publisher : Random House (September 3, 2019)
- Publication date : September 3, 2019
- Language : English
- File size : 47721 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 341 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #50,234 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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I am a USN Chief Petty Officer (Ret) and absolutely loved this book by the General... As explained in the blurb, it is divided into 3 sections..direct leadership, executive leadership and strategic leadership.
Reading is an excellent way to broaden my horizons and this book did exactly that for me. The Marines, of course, are famiiar to me but this book gave me further insight into their training. I had no idea, for example, that all are trained as Infantry Officers first. And, when they go up the ladder in the 'O's that they are given a new book to study for that position.
This one will explain leadership techniques to anyone that is interested. One of my favorite parts was that the intent of the leader must be understood. The three C's ....competence, caring and conviction were also mentioned. The caring part is so true when being a leader as those junior troops will not only hear that but feel it...in their hearts.
I did have one laugh out loud moment in remembering my days as a USN recruiter. Tough times for both of us, it appears. He, of course, was in charge of the recruiters and I was on the receiving end. The mid 1980's was not a good time for either of us!
Just an outstanding book which I enjoyed reading thoroughly. I kept envisioning going into the USMC and advancing up the ladder to eventually become the Secretary of Defense. A plus 40 years of service in the Corps. Wow..just wow... Truly hope you enjoy your well deserved retirement...as we say in the USN. Bravo Zulu, Sir... I salute you.
Most highly recommended and for multiple reasons., integrity, honesty, service to country and an outstanding style of leadership...
Will contact Amazon about the lack of the Verified Purchase as I did purchase it ... Order below. Per Amazon's guidance, had to delete original review and resubmit...Two calls and my request has been forwarded to Communities for assistance.
Order detailsOrdered on July 9, 2019 (1 item)
Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead
Mattis, Jim, West, Bing
Sold by: Random House Digital, Inc.
Top reviews from other countries
General Mattis draws on a well spring of personal experience and a hinterland of many military writers, theorists and practitioners: from Marcus Aurelius to Clausewitz to Colin S. Gray. General Mattis reads like a skilled surgeon who could recite Grey’s Anatomy. From Grand Strategy to developing synthetic training for private soldiers to the importance of mental and physical rehearsals General Mattis consistently conveys a sense of mastery of his art. All great military leaders sense turning moments and he outlines this several times and not just on active operations but in peacetime military planning. His ability to take complex issues and communicate them to soldiers at the same time as enthusing them to give their best is a rare gift. Simple concepts like "No better friend, no worse enemy" is what grand strategists do, they say simple things that connect the soldier, citizen and the aims of the state, and encapsulates neatly US foreign policy not just the US Marine Corps. The descriptions of his part in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq are compelling as are his thoughts on the subsequent operations and attempts at drawing down force levels. The process of withdrawal and the implications for steadfast allies was his eventual reason for leaving high office. And yet as a mark of his integrity and love of country he consistently refuses to criticize or diminish the office of the sitting President. The inclusion of a Robert Burns quote in perfect context was outstanding. This book should be mandatory reading for senior military leaders and their civilian colleagues. “It would fae mony a blunder free us.”