President Trump announced on Thursday that Secretary of Defense James Mattis would be leaving his position at the end of February 2019.
Trump’s announcement on Twitter was followed shortly by the public release of the resignation letter Mattis had submitted to the White House.
“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
….equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
In the letter from Mattis, the retired Marine general wrote that he was proud of the great progress that he and Trump achieved over the past two years, particularly with regard to the Defense Department’s budgetary and business practices.
He also mentioned their progress in “improving readiness and lethality in our forces” and ensuring that the U.S. military remained the superior and premier fighting force above all around the globe.
Mattis went on to thank the president for the opportunity and privilege to serve the nation as head of the military — but “Mad Dog” also had his fair share of criticism for the commander in chief.
Mattis wrote that he believes in maintaining the various strong yet respectful alliances and partnerships with other nations and being unambiguous in confronting our nation’s strategic enemies and rivals, among other things.
“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,” wrote Mattis. He added that he would continue to serve and facilitate a smooth transition in leadership prior to his departure from office on Feb. 28.
Disagreements on policy
Reports noted that it had long been rumored that Mattis would soon resign from the Trump administration — typically in conjunction with reports that Mattis and Trump had disagreed on an issue — but Mattis routinely dismissed those rumors in the past.
But while it seems that Mattis and Trump were previously able to work past their differences, they must have reached an impasse on the latest policy disagreement: Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan.
Gen. Mattis is a widely beloved military leader, and his departure from the administration has caused quite a bit of consternation on both sides of the political aisle.
Hopefully, whoever is appointed and confirmed to replace Mattis will be up to the task of filling some rather large shoes.