US President-elect Donald Trump will name retired General James Mattis to lead the Pentagon; The Washington Post gave an account of Thursday, picking a revered figure in the Marine Corps known for his extreme talk, doubt of Iran and combat zone involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The daily paper said the declaration was probably going to be made early next week. Reuters couldn't instantly confirm the planned nomination.
The decision of a prepared military strategist could be another sign that Trump, a Republican, means to guide US foreign policy away from Democratic President Barack Obama's increased reliance on US partners to battle Islamist militants and to help deter Russian and Chinese aggression in Europe and Asia.
While the nomination of the 66-year-old Mattis will probably be well known among US strengths, many of whom know him by his colourful nickname "Mad Dog," it will have to clear a bureaucratic obstacle.
Since he resigned only in 2013, Mattis would need Congress to waive a requirement that a defence secretary be non military personnel for at least seven years before taking the top employment at the Pentagon. His impressive battle 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 guaranteed a year ago that, "I know more about ISIS than the commanders do."