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Mattis wishes troops 'Merry Christmas' ahead of departure

Outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis, who announced his resignation last week in response to President Donald Trump's plans to bring home troops from Syria and Afghanistan, wished troops a Merry Christmas.

"We in the U.S. military are privileged to defend America, especially at this time of year, for we ensure we ensure our fellow Americans celebrate this season of hope in peace and safety," Mattis said in a video Monday.

"Far from home, you have earned the gratitude and respect of your fellow citizens and it remains my great privilege to serve alongside you. Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe."

According to Task & Purpose, the video was recorded on Dec. 19 -- one day before Mattis announced his resignation.

In his resignation letter last week, Mattis said he would stay on the job for an additional two months in order for Trump to find a replacement. But Trump is replacing him early, appointing Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to the chief role in the interim until a permanent replacement is appointed.

Shanahan is set to assume the top role Jan. 1.

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