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US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis resigns, cites differences with Trump

Jim Mattis, the Defence Secretary of the United States abruptly announced his resignation on December 20, 2018, citing policy differences with President Donald Trump as the main reason behind the move. Mattis would be retiring at the end of February 2019.

Dec 21, 2018 17:01 IST
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Jim Mattis, the Defence Secretary of the United States abruptly announced his resignation on December 20, 2018, citing policy differences with President Donald Trump as the main reason behind the move.

The resignation comes a day after President Donald Trump announced that all US troops would be withdrawn from Syria. The President is also considering a substantial US pullout from the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan. Defending his decision, Trump had tweeted that the US does not want to be the policeman of West Asia.

Mattis would be retiring at the end of February 2019. Announcing his resignation, Trump had tweeted that General Mattis was a great help in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations.  

Key Highlights

In his resignation letter, Mattis told Trump he had the right to have a Secretary of Defence whose views are better aligned with that of his.

According to reports, Mattis had attempted to convince President Trump to keep US troops in Syria.

According to analysts, the withdrawal of US troops from Syria will clear the way for Syria's Bashar al-Assad regime, Russia and Iran.

Mattis had warned that removing ground forces from the Middle Eastern country would be a "strategic blunder".

Currently, there are about 2,000 US forces in Syria.

About Mattis

  US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis resigns

James Norman Mattis is the 26th United States Secretary of Defense and a former United States Marine Corps general.

He was commissioned in the Marine Corps through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps after graduating from Central Washington University.

A career Marine, he gained a reputation for intellectualism and eventually advanced to the rank of general.

He has served in the Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

He commanded the United States Joint Forces Command from 2007 to 2010 and concurrently served as the NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Transformation.

He was also the Commander of United States Central Command from 2010 to 2013, which directed military operations and oversaw the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

After retiring from the military, he served in several private sector roles, including as a board member of Theranos.

Mattis was nominated as Secretary of Defense by President-elect Trump and confirmed by the Senate on January 20, 2017.

Mattis had needed a waiver from Congress to allow his nomination to be considered, as he had only been separated from the military for three years and the US federal law requires at least seven years of retirement for former military personnel to be appointed Secretary of Defense.

Mattis as Secretary of Defence

During his tenure, Mattis affirmed the United States' commitment to defending longtime ally South Korea in the wake of the North Korea crisis.

  US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis resigns

He not only opposed collaboration with Russia on military matters but also consistently stressed on Russia's threat to the world order.

He has occasionally voiced his disagreement with certain Trump administration policies, opposing the proposed withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Background

Jim Mattis is the latest in the long list of senior Trump administration officials to either leave or to be removed.  In March 2018, Trump had fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Recently on December 8, President Trump had announced that his chief of staff, John F Kelly, would step down by the end of December 2018.

The move is a part of a long-planned staff shake-up as the President heads into the 2020 campaign facing growing peril from the special counsel and newly empowered Democrats.

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