US Defense Secretary James Mattis finally announced his long-anticipated resignation to allow President Donald Trump to have a defense chief whose views are more aligned with the US president, he said in his resignation letter Thursday.
Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who was known as a stabilizing force in President Trump’s cabinet, will leave his job at the end of February, Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.
“General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Trump tweeted.
Trump also announced he would nominate a successor to Mattis shortly.
Despite Trump’s talk of retirement, Mattis said in his resignation letter that he was stepping down so Trump could have a defense chief whose views align more closely with his own.
His departure had been anticipated since Trump announced on Wednesday that he was withdrawing US troops from Syria despite opposition from US allies and top US military officials.
Mattis joins a long list of former Trump administration senior figures who have either quit or been removed, some unceremoniously like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who Trump fired via Twitter in March.
Trump’s White House has had the highest turnover of senior-level staff of the past five presidents, according to the Brookings Institution think tank.