A student found Gen. Mattis’ private number and called him; Mattis answers and gives rare interview

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When the Washington Post accidently revealed the phone number for Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, one high school newspaper saw it and jumped at the opportunity, contacting Mattis and asking him for an interview.

Mattis generously agreed to do the interview for high school journalist Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley for their school paper, “The Islander,” from Mercer Island High School in Washington state.

When asked how students should prepared themselves to be politically active and aware adults, Mattis responded that “no matter what you’re going to go into, whether it be business or politics or international relations or domestic politics, I don’t think you can go wrong if you maintain an avid interest in history.”

He encouraged students who are concerned for the future of the country to get involved. “You’ll gain courage when you get involved. You’ll gain confidence,” Mattis told the students.

He warned about the future of warfare and conflict in the military, noting that technology is changing constantly, and there are aspects in the cyber domain that were not there before.

“We fought on this planet mostly with ground armies until navies became something one hundred years ago. Air forces joined, and now in the last ten years, we’ve added space and cyber. So it’ll be a very complex domain, or environment. Precision will no longer be dominated by the Americans due to the spread in technology,” Mattis said.

He responded to their questions about the Arab countries, Iran, defeating ISIS, and defeating ideologies.

The full transcript of the interview is available on The Islander website.

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