Trump's Pentagon pick says United States needs to be ready to confront Russian Federation

Mattis, along with a co-author, wrote in a recently published book, "We fear that an uninformed public is permitting political leaders to impose an accretion of social conventions that are diminishing the combat power of our military".

Officials who knew him before he retired in 2013 said Mr Mattis clashed with top Obama administration officials when he headed the military's Central Command over his desire to better prepare for potential threats from Tehran.

India is the worlds largest democracy and "our relationship with it is of utmost importance", he said.

Gillibrand was anxious about more than just his opinions, and asked if he planned to roll back the changes.

"History is not a straightjacket, but I've never found a better guide for the way ahead", Mattis said, pointing to the failures of US policy since World War II in improving relations with the Soviet Union and now Russian Federation.

Mattis will also have to answer questions about how he plans to deal with threats as varied as the self-proclaimed Islamic State, North Korea, Russia and China. On gays in the military, Mattis told Gillibrand, "Frankly, senator, I've never cared about two consenting adults and who they go to bed with". Sam Nunn and former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen, according to a congressional aide. The former general expressed respect for the tradition of civilian control, calling it a "fundamental tenet of the American military tradition". He also will likely to be asked how he views some of the top issues within the department now, including women joining combat units, whether he supports President-elect Trump's call to expand the size of the ground forces and the US cyberwar.

In a book published a year ago, the General warned about a "progressive agenda" imposing "social change" on the military following the 2010 repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

John McCain, the committee chairman and an Arizona Republican, reflected the strong support for Mattis among most panel members.

Of great concern is Mattis' ideas on the service of LGBT members.

Mattis, 66, has tried to persuade Trump privately against the use of waterboarding, which simulates drowning, as an interrogation tactic.

Senators are expected to ask Mattis how he would grapple with Iran's influence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and beyond.

"I have a very high degree of confidence in out intelligence community", he said.

If he were confirmed, Mattis has agreed to give up his business interests, including A $242,000- a-year position on the board of General Dynamics, one of the largest defense contractors.

Calling Mattis a "great Marine, great general officer and great [combatant commander]", Navy Secretary Ray Mabus told a group of reporters at an on-the-record breakfast that he was supportive of those who have raised concerns about maintaining civilian control of the military. Army Gen. George C. Marshall, an active-duty five-star general, was defense secretary for about a year beginning in 1950 after he was selected by President Truman as the military struggled in the early days of the Korean War.

  • Jon Douglas