Mattis sends final message to troops as defense secretary

US envoy to anti-IS coalition resigns after Trump's Syria decision

Trump has issued a further series of statements since then criticizing Mattis, saying Mattis did not see a problem with the USA subsidizing the militaries of rich countries, or allowing them to "take total advantage of the U.S. and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade". But U.S. officials said that the fallout of his decision to leave - including the shock and dismay expressed on Capitol Hill - annoyed Trump and likely led to Mattis leaving earlier than planned.

Mr Shanahan has never served in the military.

If Shanahan stays on as a permanent defence secretary, he is unlikely to push strongly held views on those conflicts - and, when paired with the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark A. Milley, could usher in a shift in power further toward the military brass.

"It is a mistake for President Trump to deny the country an opportunity to have a stable transition to a new Secretary of Defense in this fashion", said HASC ranking member Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., in a statement.

The announcement that U.S. troops would leave the civil war-torn country - where they have been deployed to assist in the multinational fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group - shocked global partners and American politicians alike.

Mattis, whose embrace of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and America's traditional alliances often put him at odds with Trump, had advised against the Syria withdrawal - one of the factors in his resignation.

Mr Trump made his displeasure with Mr Mattis clear on Saturday night by tweeting that he had been "ingloriously fired" by former President Barack Obama and he had given Mattis a second chance.

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Tom Mattis also says he stands by his brother's decision to resign.

But Trump's announcement appeared to forestall that trip.

Shanahan lacks the kind of foreign policy experience that has become customary among defence secretaries, putting someone atop the Pentagon who lacks the deeply seated views on matters such as withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan that Mattis held. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will take over the top civilian job at the Pentagon in an acting capacity.

The announcement that Mattis would leave the administration came just after Trump stunned Washington and allies overseas in declaring that U.S. troops would leave Syria and significantly withdraw from Afghanistan.

"That's not the kind of letter of resignation I think you should write", the official said, adding Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told Mattis on Sunday he would be leaving on January 1.

The move comes just three days after Mattis resigned in protest over Trump's decision to pull all USA troops out of Syria, and delivered a blistering letter to the president that roiled Washington and reportedly angered the White House.

Roughly 2,000 American troops are now in Syria. "No anger", he told the Times. "While, Mattis believes that United States military operations in Syria and Afghanistan are aimed at fighting terrorism, which is of great significance to U.S. national security".

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