Trump Forces Mattis Out Early In Response to His Resignation Letter
Donald Trump revealed that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis would leave the position two months earlier than planned, a decision widely seen as a knee-jerk response to Mattis’ resignation letter.
Mattis resigned earlier this week after Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops in Syria and the removal of an additional 14,000 troops from Afghanistan, around half of the total U.S. forces garrisoned in the country.
Reuters reported that Mattis had sent Trump a candid resignation letter on Thursday, outlining his frank disapproval of the withdrawals and criticizing president’s disregard for the nation’s international allies.
Mattis was originally expected to continue in the post for the next two months, assisting in the handover to his successor. Trump’s latest announcement revealed that the existing Deputy Defense Secretary, former Boeing executive Patrick Shanahan, will replace the retired Marine general take over from the retired Marine general on January 1.
In a Twitter post announcing Mattis’ early departure, Trump called Shanahan, “very talented” and said, “he will be great!”
I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
CNN reported that Shanahan’s experience in the Department of Defense has been limited. As Deputy Defense Secretary, he has primarily been handling budgetary issues, internal reform, and Trump’s Space Force plans.
A senior White House official indicated to Reuters that the decision stemmed from Trump’s annoyance at the attention Mattis’ resignation letter was receiving in the media.
A U.S. defense official stipulated that Mattis would continue to assist in the transition, he “will continue to focus on what he needs to do… to ensure a smooth transition.”