In response to Secretary of Defense James Mattis stepping down as head of the Department of Defense at the end of February in 2019, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he was sad to see the highly respected general plans on leaving.
“I believe it’s essential that the United States maintain and strengthen the post-World War II alliances that have been carefully built by leaders in both parties,” McConnell said in a statement. “We must also maintain a clear-eyed understanding of our friends and foes, and recognize that nations like Russia are among the latter."
“So I was sorry to learn that Secretary Mattis, who shares those clear principles, will soon depart the administration,” he continued. “But I am particularly distressed that he is resigning due to sharp differences with the president on these and other key aspects of America’s global leadership."
“It is regrettable that the President must now choose a new Secretary of Defense. But I urge him to select a leader who shares Secretary Mattis’s understanding of these vital principles and his total commitment to America’s servicemembers,” McConnell concluded.
In his letter of resignation, Mattis said while he was “privileged” to serve as Secretary of Defense, he also believes in “treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors.”
Because he and President Donald Trump disagree on America’s role in the Middle East, Mattis said it was best to step down.
“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,” he added. “I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.”