ABOARD A US MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Under the cover of predawn hours, Secretary of Defense James Mattis disembarked a 20-hour flight from the Middle East at Andrews Air Force Base and headed straight to the Pentagon.
It was the morning of his 68th birthday and by all accounts it was just another day in the Secretary's demanding schedule.
Earlier in the week, Mattis and his staff began a five-day trip with stops in San Diego, New Delhi, Kabul and Abu Dhabi. He would clock more than 22,000 flight miles and 42 hours aboard planes, helicopters, and cargo aircraft. His days, despite jumping between multiple time zones, began at 4 a.m. and were filled with engagements.
Carrying his own luggage and arriving early to the flight line are habits learned by Mattis' team, who work to stay two steps ahead of the exacting Marine Corps general.
Since taking the highest office in the Pentagon, Mattis has visited nearly 60 countries.