President Trump will need to find a new defense secretary after his first Pentagon chief Jim Mattis submitted his resignation Thursday in response to the president’s abrupt announcement the previous day that he would pull U.S. troops out of Syria. The table had been set for Mattis’ departure in recent months, though, as he found himself on the losing end in number of policy disputes with the president, reported the Washington Post. Most recently, Trump rejected Mattis’ recommendation to name Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Instead, Trump tapped Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Mattis touched on his policy difference with the president in his resignation letter, saying his decision would allow the president to find “a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with yours.” He said he would step down Feb. 28, 2019, to provide sufficient time for the Senate to confirm a successor. The February date also is intended to ensure a new defense secretary is in place well before Milley becomes Joint Chiefs chairman in September.
DoD photo by Army Sgt. Amber Smith