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Pentagon chief James Mattis resigns, cites differences with Trump

"During Jim's tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment," the president said on Twitter. "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!"

In his resignation letter, Mattis cited a lack of agreement on how the United States should be involved in international issues as the reason for his departure.

Defense Secretary James Mattis will retire at the end of February, President Donald Trump announced Thursday.

Trump said Mattis' retirement comes "with distinction" after joining the Cabinet in January 2017.

"During Jim's tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment," the president said on Twitter. "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!"

In his resignation letter, Mattis cited a lack of agreement on how the United States should be involved in international issues as the reason for his departure.
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"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," Mattis wrote.

"One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the U.S. remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies," he added.

Mattis' departure comes on the same day Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN that the secretary believes the "job in Syria is not yet done" despite Trump's announcement earlier this week that the United States will withdraw all troops from the country.

"Secretary Mattis is firmly in the camp of the job in Syria is not yet done. That abandoning the Kurds now will hurt us down the road," Graham said. "That [the Islamic State] could and probably will come back. And I think that's the universal view of both [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo and Mattis."

Trump rebuked Graham in response on Twitter.

"So hard to believe that Lindsey Graham would be against saving soldier lives & billions of $$$. Why are we fighting for our enemy, Syria, by staying & killing ISIS for them, Russia, Iran & other locals? Time to focus on our Country & bring our youth back home where they belong!" the president tweeted.

Trump has announced a number of Cabinet departures as 2018 draws to a close, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke (Dec. 15), Chief of Staff John Kelly (Dec. 8), Attorney General Jeff Sessions (Nov. 7) and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley (Oct.9).
 

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