While doing stability operations in the Shiite-heavy south immediately following Saddam’s fall, Mattis was confronted with fiery Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s rapid trajectory toward insurgency kingpin. One day when al-Sadr was trying to pull together a mass meeting of his followers for another of his stem-winders, the kind that eventually launched his bloody uprising, Mattis cut him off at the pass, or, more specifically, at the bus station. Knowing that the cleric would use buses to bring followers into his urban stronghold from outside, Mattis hired as many buses in the region as he could get his hands on. “So when he went to contract his buses, they were gone,” Mattis says. “Didn’t have to shoot a single person. We sent the buses out for a trip — empty there, empty back. A waste of money? It was the best money I ever spent.”
from an otherwise unremarkable Esquire profile on various general officers.