DoD Buzz

Mattis' Preference to Be Called 'Jim' Becomes Sorta Official


The "just Jim" preferences of new Defense Secretary James Norman Mattis appear to be taking hold in the vast public affairs machinery of the Pentagon.

The retired Marine general let it be known last week in a surprise appearance at one of the "gaggles" for defense reporters that "I go by Jim" -- and not the "Mad Dog" nickname that President Donald Trump likes so much.

On Monday, references to "Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis" began appearing in various Pentagon releases on his statements and readouts of his phone calls and meetings with foreign leaders, such as this: "Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan at the Pentagon today."

The Defense Department also might be going along with the current White House habit of referring to the terror group as "ISIS," as in the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The DoD, State Department and White House of former President Barack Obama had used the term "ISIL," or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

However, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, deftly said this Monday when asked for a ruling on ISIS or ISIL: "I don't know that there's been an official direction to change anything."

There are many theories, and arguments, in think tanks and on talk radio on which term should be used. The debate has dragged on, along with the war.

News outlets have gone both ways, but mostly have come down on the side of ISIS. At, we've mostly gone with "ISIS." Whenever "ISIL" has appeared in a quote, we've tagged on the line that whoever was being quoted was "using another acronym."

Over the weekend, The New York Times said that at the White House of President Donald Trump, "ISIL is out. ISIS is in."

Commanders at Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, which is in charge of the campaign against ISIS -- or maybe ISIL -- tend to use the Arabic term "Daesh."

The term spawned countless Google searches when it started appearing in 2015. There will be many objections to this definition, but here goes: Daesh is an acronym for the Arabic phrase al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham, or Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The terrorists of ISIS, or ISIL, supposedly hate the term because it is similar to the Arabic words "Daes," or "one who crushes something underfoot," and "Dahes," or "one who sows discord."

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