Defense Secretary James Mattis' performance thus far has earned him autonomy, yet also unfettered access to President Donald Trump, The Hill reported.
Becoming Trump's most trusted cabinet member, Mattis and Trump meet nearly every week — sometimes more — after which Trump leaves crucial decisions for Mattis to make alone, The Hill reported.
The independence Trump has granted Mattis makes the retired Marine Corps general one of the more powerful defense secretaries in recent memory, and also stands in stark contrast to the painstaking process former President Barack Obama took in making rudimentary decisions after talking to many advisers, The Hill reported.
"It’s not to say (Trump) has a hands-off approach — he has a very hands-on approach, but he works within the chain of command and he is allowing his secretary of defense, who is the No. 2 in the chain of command, to go out there and execute," a White House spokesman told The Hill.
On the flip side, it also swings the balance of power in ways that make some at the Pentagon nervous, The Hill reported.
"I think it makes the Pentagon bureaucracy nervous that the president will go directly to a very few people for their best military advice," one person told The Hill.
It also puts Mattis on the front line to bear the brunt of criticism, too.
Though highly-respected on both sides of the aisle (98-1 confirmation), Mattis also is now the frontman for the administration when it comes to Afghanistan, for example, and the daggers are flying.
"Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week that we are not winning in Afghanistan," Sen. John McCain said Monday. "And yet, six months into the new administration, it still has not delivered a strategy. We cannot keep going like this. If the administration fails to develop a strategy for success, Congress will need to play a greater role."
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