Even as the US’s defence administration is furiously working to set up contingency plans from two massive shocks – US President’s order of withdrawal of troops from Syria and the resignation of Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, Trump for himself has already named an interim defence secretary.
Announcing that Jim Mattis would leave earlier than the February 2018 date, Trump tweeted out the appointment of Patrick Shanahan as Mattis’ replacement.
I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Mattis' last day is expected to be January 1, 2019 according to multiple reports. The premature departure is being attributed by multiple news organisations to the unprecedented global coverage of Mattis’ departure. CNN reported while quoting sources that the US President was furious at the extensive coverage given to Mattis' resignation and therefore was forcing him to leave earlier than he originally planned.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Rob Manning said in a statement that "the secretary of defence serves at the pleasure of the President. The department remains focused on national security."
The Secretary of Defense serves at the pleasure of the President. #SecDef Mattis will work with Deputy Shanahan and department leadership to ensure the #DOD remains focused on the defense of the nation during this transition.
— Dana W. White - DOD (@ChiefPentSpox) December 23, 2018
General James ‘Jim’ Mattis announced his resignation on Thursday with a letter saying his views were not aligned with Trump and it came less than 48 hours after Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he was ordering the withdrawal of troops from Syria. Trump said the primary objective of defeating the Islamic State had been achieved and hence US troops were no longer needed in Syria.