WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Secretary of Defense James Mattis is retiring at the end of February. On Twitter,  Trump said Mattis is stepping down “with distinction” after serving as Defense secretary for two years.  Trump said Mattis was a great help in getting US allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations.

The Pentagon later released a copy of Mattis’ signed resignation letter. In the letter Mattis said it was a “privilege to serve” as defense secretary. In writing to Trump, Mattis said that “a strong nation relies on a comprehensive network of alliances, and must be “resolute and unambiguous when it comes to dealing with countries with strategic differences, such as China and Russia.

In explaining his decision to step down he said: “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 that his departure date would be February 28, 2019, saying that it would give the president and Defense Department enough time to find a replacement and have him/her nominated and confirmed. Mattis pledged a full effort to a smooth transition.

Mattis’ resignation comes a day after President Trump announced that they are pulling all 2,000 American troops out of Syria. Mattis received praise from Republicans for a being a man of intellect and integrity. Mattis’ military career has put him in the fight against radical Islam for many decades.

Mattis’ resignation comes after a sharp turn in a relationship, that once appeared strong. During Mattis’ early days as Defense secretary, he often ate dinner with President Trump in the White House residence.  Lately, Mattis has often differed strongly on proposals Trump has presented regarding banning transgender troops, starting the Space Force, and putting on a military parade. He also questioned whether or not Trump’s decision to exit the Iran deal was effective.

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