WASHINGTON - US President-elect Donald Trump will nominate retired General James Mattis to lead the Pentagon, The Washington Post reported on Thursday, choosing a revered figure in the Marine Corps known for his tough talk, distrust of Iran and battlefield experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The newspaper said the announcement was likely to be made early next week. Reuters could not immediately confirm the planned nomination.
The choice of a seasoned military strategist could be another indication that Trump, a Republican, intends to steer US foreign policy away from Democratic President Barack Obama's increased reliance on US allies to fight Islamist militants and to help deter Russian and Chinese aggression in Europe and Asia.
While the nomination of the 66-year-old Mattis will likely be popular among US forces, many of whom know him by his colorful nickname "Mad Dog," it will have to clear a bureaucratic hurdle.
Because he retired only in 2013, Mattis would need Congress to waive a requirement that a defense secretary be a civilian for at least seven years before taking the top job at the Pentagon. His impressive combat record, however, may deter some Senate Democrats from trying to block his nomination.
Trump has described Mattis as "a true general's general."
The New York real estate magnate famously claimed last year that, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do."