Defense Secretary Mattis quits as Trump upends major US policies

ARLINGTON, VA - NOVEMBER 09: U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis waits to welcome China State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe during a honor cordon ceremony at the Pentagon, on November 9, 2018 in Arlington, Virginia. The two planned to discuss 'risk reduction' in an effort to limit the possibility of inadvertent clashes. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)Secretary of Defense James Mattis.Mark Wilson/Getty Images

  • US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is resigning, effective at the end of February.
  • President Donald Trump announced via Twitter late Thursday.
  • While the president said that Mattis is retiring, his resignation letter clearly states that he is stepping down due to a difference of views between himself and the president, particularly when it comes to the security of the international order.

President Donald Trump announced via Twitter late Thursday that Secretary of Defense James Mattis will be stepping down at the end of February.

"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," the president tweeted.

"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. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!"

While the president said that Mattis is retiring, his resignation letter clearly states that he is stepping down due to a difference of views between himself and the president, particularly when it comes to the security of the international order, the treatment of allies, and the handling of American adversaries.

"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," he wrote.

The sudden announcement comes as Trump ignored the guidance of top advisors, Mattis included, and decided to withdraw US forces from Syria. Furthermore, there are now reports that the president is actively considering withdrawing as many as 3,000 of the 14,000 troops in Afghanistan.

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