Mattis Meets With The Canadian Version Of Himself

United States Department of Defense/Air Force Tech Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
Font Size:

Secretary of Defense James Mattis met with Canadian Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan Tuesday, one of the few defense chiefs as legendary as himself.

It was the first meeting of the two defense leaders, and according to most accounts, it went quite well. Mattis and Sajjan reaffirmed the crucial U.S.- Canadian defense partnership, specifically emphasizing the importance of the North American Aerospace Defense Command. But the cordial relationship should come as no surprise, as Mattis and Sajjan are both famous battle-hardened warriors.

Like Mattis, Sajjan entered office with quite a battlefield reputation. He joined Canada’s British Columbia Regiment in 1989, and was deployed to major conflict zones like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Afghanistan. He suffered an injury during his Bosnia tour, but continued his military career, deploying to Afghanistan in 2006.

Sajjan fought in Kandahar, and like Mattis in Iraq, he understood the importance of building relationships with locals. He used his Punjabi language skills to gather crucial intelligence from Afghan locals and helped stem the tide of Taliban recruitment in villages. In a 2015 interview with the Vancouver Sun, Sajjan recalled how he and his 40 man team were attacked by Taliban forces daily.

“People were turning to the Taliban because of the corruption, and we couldn’t defend that,” said Sajjan. “That stirred the hornets’ nest. There were about 40 of us and we were getting hit every day.”

A separate evaluation found that Sajjan showed “remarkable personal courage … often working in the face of the enemy to collect data and confirm his suspicions and placing himself almost daily in situations of grave personal risk.”

Sajjan’s success caught the eye of his commander, Canadian Maj. Gen. David Fraser, who asked for him to help plan what became known as Operation Medusa, a 15-day offensive. He lost eight men during the fight, but Fraser described his leadership as “nothing short of brilliant,” noting that Sajjan was “fearless, smart and personable,” not unlike his American counterpart Mattis, who was a favorite among Marines in Iraq.

Sajjan returned to Afghanistan in 2009, advising U.S. Maj. Gen. James Terry, who was commanding U.S. forces in country at the time. He returned for another tour in 2011, this time as a regimental commander, the first Sikh to ever hold such a position in the Canadian army.

After entering politics in 2015, Sajjan was appointed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to minister of national defense.

Sajjan and Mattis reportedly spent 45 minutes talking about a variety of key national security issues, and said they both look forward to continuing to work closely in the future.

Follow Russ Read on Twitter

Send tips to

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact