‘It's Fun to Shoot Some People': Retired General Mattis in 2005 Appearance

The comment, made to a group of people gathered at the San Diego Convention Center, made headlines in 2005

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis has been selected by President-elect Donald Trump to be the first career officer to lead the Pentagon since just after World War II.

In 2005, Mattis was chastised by his superiors for saying in a public speech in San Diego that it was "fun to shoot some people." It was also during that appearance that Mattis said some Afghans deserved to die.

Mattis, 66, retired in 2013 after serving as commander of the U.S. Central Command, responsible for directing America's wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Trump, who has referred to Mattis by his nickname "Mad Dog," made the announcement of his choice for Secretary of Defense at a post-election victory rally Thursday night in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Mattis has been known to speak bluntly and off-the-cuff.

In 2005, the then-three-star general was stationed in Quantico, Virginia when he spoke to a group of about 200 people gathered at the San Diego Convention Center.

"Actually, it's a lot of fun to fight," he said. "You know, it's a hell of a hoot. . . . It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be right upfront with you. I like brawling."

"You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil," Mattis continued. "You know, guys like that ain't got no manhood left anyway. So it's a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them."

While many military members laughed at the comments, a military expert interviewed by NBC 7 immediately after the event called the comments "flippant."

"I was a little surprised," said Retired Vice Adm. Edward H. Martin at the time. "I don't think any of us who have ever fought in wars liked to kill anybody."

At the time, Mattis was in charge of Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Division.

His boss at the time, Gen. Mike Hagee, said that the comments reflected the "unfortunate and harsh realities of war" but that Mattis had been asked to watch his words in public.

Contact Us