Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was named as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People this year.

Mattis, who retired from the Marines after 41 years of service was profiled by Robert Gates, former defense secretary and director of the CIA. Gates compared Mattis to George C. Marshall, who served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army under presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, and served as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under Truman.

Gates said both men share a "deep knowledge of history, his strategic vision, his appreciation of both America's national interests and its values, his tough-mindedness about policies and people, and his integrity." Gates commended Mattis for tackling the challenges of running both the Joint Forces Command and the Central Command while never sugarcoating his messages.

Here's what Gates wrote about Mattis:

Jim Mattis is a worthy successor to the only previous general officer to serve as Secretary of Defense, General George C. Marshall. Mattis shares Marshall's deep knowledge of history, his strategic vision, his appreciation of both America's national interests and its values, his tough-mindedness about policies and people, and his integrity. Like Marshall, Mattis is also unafraid to speak truth to power.

As Secretary of Defense, I recommended Jim Mattis to take charge of both Joint Forces Command and Central Command. His tasks were challenging: he had to dismantle the former, and he oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But I never worried about him sugarcoating his message to me or others.

Finally, Jim Mattis loves the troops. He will do what is necessary to protect the country, and he will care for our men and women in uniform as if they were his own children.