United States Marine Corps Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis was notified that he was being replaced as commander of U.S. Central Command not by a phone call from Washington, but by a note passed to him by an aide, according to Foreign Policy’s Thomas E. Ricks.
From Ricks’ report:
… General Mattis was travelling and in a meeting when an aide passed him a note telling him that the Pentagon had announced his replacement as head of Central Command. It was news to him — he hadn’t received a phone call or a heads-up from anyone at the Pentagon or the White House.
Ricks says he inquired further into this report. This is what he was told:
…the commander-in-chief can make a change whenever he wants and give no reason. That is right and proper under our system of government.
But there’s also the matter of common courtesy to an uncommon man. Here is what one person wrote to me: “What message does it send to the Services when the one leader known for his war-fighting rather than diplomatic or bureaucratic political skills is retired early via one sentence in the Pentagon’s daily press handout? Even in battle, Mattis was inclusive of all under his command. He took the time to pull together his driver and guards after every day’s rotation on the battlefield, telling them what he thought he had learned and asking them for input. Surely senior administration officials could have found the time to be gracious. But they didn’t.”