Mattis bids farewell to Pentagon with call to 'hold fast'

Mattis bids farewell to Pentagon with call to 'hold fast'

United States Department of Defense Spokeswoman Dana White resigned from her position on Monday, name-dropping Secretary of Defense James Mattis, whose last day as Pentagon chief is also Monday, per President Donald Trump's orders.

"Our Department's leadership, civilian and military, remains in the best possible hands", wrote Mattis, who had been widely regarded as a moderating force against the president's volatility. He backed Trump on strengthening the military and ramping up combat readiness.

Mattis quoted from a letter Lincoln wrote in 1865 to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is giving some final advice to troops and the Defense Department's civilian employees - maintain your faith in America and continue to stand by the country's allies.

"Let nothing which is transpiring, change, hinder, or delay your military movements, or plans", Mr Mattis quoted Lincoln as saying. Earlier this month, Trump reversed himself and ordered a partial withdrawal, overriding Mattis' objections.

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"We have deep respect for Secretary Mattis' lifetime of service, and it has been a privilege to serve as his deputy secretary", said Shanahan, a former Boeing executive who did not serve in the military and has little experience in foreign affairs or dealing with allies.

Retired Gen. David Petraeus, the former Central Intelligence Agency director and commander of US forces in Afghanistan, poured cold water on Monday on rumors he would come out of retirement to become President Trump's new Secretary of Defense. However, on December 23, Trump abruptly moved Mattis' resignation date forward to January 1, 2019.

On his last day in office Monday, McGurk, a Middle East troubleshooter under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, struck a similar tone to Mattis. His confirmation by the Senate required passage of legislation overriding a prohibition against former US service members who have been out of uniform fewer than seven years from holding the Defense Department's top job. Maxwell is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies. He wrote that the president has "the right to have a secretary of defense whose views are better aligned with" his.

Once the phone call is complete, the Pentagon will notify the White House that Shanahan has assumed his duties as the acting secretary. During his Senate confirmation hearing in June 2017, he drew the ire of Republican Sen. Trump has suggested Shanahan could stay in the role as acting secretary for a considerable amount of time.

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