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Trump gives Defense chief Mattis running room in war-fighting

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During a meeting with his Qatari counterpart, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said no military in the world is more sensitive to civilian casualties. He made the comment following a US-led airstrike in Mosul that may have killed at least 100. (March 27)
AP

WASHINGTON — In less than three months as Defense secretary, Jim Mattis already is shaking up the Pentagon. He is making dramatic changes in the war against the Islamic State, ramping up support for allies fighting Islamic terrorists and giving commanders more latitude to make battlefield decisions.

Recent evidence of his influence includes increased military support for the Somalia government fighting al-Qaeda affiliates, a bombing campaign launched in Yemen and the dispatch of Marines and Army helicopter gunships to assist Syrian opposition forces fighting the Islamic State, or ISIS.

These moves reflect the retired Marine four-star general’s approach to war, honed over decades fighting extremism in the Middle East. They put more American troops at risk, but boost the odds of defeating the Islamic State, analysts say.

“He’s not going to fight these guys with one arm tied behind his back,” said Douglas Stone, a retired Marine major general who has worked with Mattis. “He wants to defeat the enemy.”

Mattis commanded forces in Afghanistan and Iraq after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and served…

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