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Secretary of Defense Mattis to retire at end of February

Posted at 3:36 PM, Dec 20, 2018

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary James Mattis is retiring at the end of February, according to a series of tweets by President Trump.  In his resignation letter Mattis referenced treating allies with respect while using America’s power across the world, a comment that appears directed at President Trump’s comments about other world leaders.

The four-star general, sometimes referred to as ‘Mad Dog Mattis’ by military personnel and veterans, is the last Marine Corps general selected to be part of the Trump Administration in the beginning to help guide him in foreign affairs.

“During Jim’s tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations,” tweeted President Trump.

He announced a new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly.

Mattis became well known to the public as he led Marines in Iraq, specifically during the fight for Fallujah in 2004.  The announcement of his retirement comes one day after the U.S. announced the intention to withdraw from Syria as ISIS is defeated according to President Trump.

In his resignation letter, General Mattis wrote, in part:

“One core belief that I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model – gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and their allies. That is why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position.”

Senator Cory Gardner and Senator Michael Bennet comments on the announcement by Mattis: