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Read James Mattis’ resignation letter

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump's plans to withdraw troops from Syria became public.

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
3000 DEFENSE PENTAGON
WASHINGTON, DC 2030i 41060

December 20, 2018

Dear Mr. President:

I have been privileged to serve as our country's 26th Secretary of Defense which has
allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens
and our ideals.

I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the
key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: putting the Department on a more sound
budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces, and reforming the
Department's business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the
capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong U.S. global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked
to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While
the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or
serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those
allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States
should not be the policeman of the world. Instead, we must use all tools of American power to
provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances.
29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside
us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further
proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those
countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China
and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model
gaining veto authority over other nations' economic, diplomatic, and security decisions to
promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is
why we must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign
actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of
immersion in these issues. We must do everything possible to advance an international order
that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this
effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

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. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient
time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department's
interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional
posture hearings and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full
transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability Within the Department.

I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the
2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 civilians receive undistracted attention of the
Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect
the American people.

I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in
uniform.

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