Gen. James Mattis

Defense

Mattis, who commanded U.S. Central Command from 2010 to 2013, left the military in 2013 after 44 years of service. A choice of Mattis will require a congressional waiver for the recently retired four-star to take the Pentagon’s top civilian post. That's because there's a seven-year cooling-off period established by law for former generals to take the spot. Mattis was confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2017. 

Read the AAAS letter to Secretary of Defense nominee, General James Mattis.

Why is this department important to the science community? 

The Department supports research related to border security; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense; cybersecurity; disaster resilience; and counterterrorism. Particularly concerning today is the threat of terrorist recruitment and self-radicalization through exposure to online propaganda from the likes of groups like ISIS. Social science research supported by DHS, including recent work published in the journal Science, can play an important role in characterizing the threat and devising effective countermeasures. Basing policy decisions on scientific evidence – rigorously obtained and thoroughly tested – is essential for assessing what works, what doesn’t, and what options are most likely to achieve their desired outcomes.