Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis thanked members of the U.S. armed services while abroad during an impromptu speech in which he urged them to "hold the line" as the country deals with rising political and racial tensions.
"The only way this great big experiment you and I call America is going to survive is because we got tough hombres like you," Mattis said in a video shared on "U.S. Army W.T.F! moments" Facebook page.
After referencing the Sept. 11 attacks, the defense secretary encouraged the service members to keep fighting because they "don't freaking scare."
Mattis said the troops are "a great example for our country right now," briefly touching on, without naming, issues at home which he stressed don't impact the military.
"Just hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other," Mattis said.
As Americans, he said, "We've got two powers: the power of inspiration" and "the power of intimidation."
Before ending his short speech, Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, quipped that he loved retirement, and that the only reason he came out of it was because of the troops.
It's unclear where the video, posted Thursday, was filmed. Mattis was visiting Ukraine, Turkey, Jordan, and Iraq this week discussing strategy for defeating the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, as well as promoting America's commitment to NATO, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.