Department of Defense

Mattis says farewell

December 31, 2018 - 12:10 pm

By Julia LeDoux

Outgoing Defense Secretary James Mattis said goodbye to his colleagues at the Pentagon Monday in a three-paragraph farewell letter.

“Our Department’s leadership, civilian and military, remains in the best possible hands,” the retired Marine general wrote. “I am confident that each of you remains undistracted from our sworn mission to support and defend the Constitution while protecting our way of life. “



Mattis resigned Dec. 20 following a clash over President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw American forces from Syria.  In his resignation letter, Mattis wrote that Trump has a “right to a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.”

Mattis had originally planned to step down in February, but Trump announced on Dec. 23 that Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would take over the top spot at the Pentagon Monday night.

Shanahan is a long-time Boeing executive, working for the defense contractor for more than 30 years before moving over to the Defense Department a little more than 17 months ago. He served as Mattis’ second in command at the Pentagon, concentrating on internal reforms, budgetary matters and the Space Force.

RELATED: 5 things to know about new acting Sec Def Patrick Shanahan

In his farewell letter, Mattis wrote that on Feb. 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln sent Gen. Ulysses S. Grant a one sentence telegram which read “let nothing that is transpiring, change, hinder or delay your military movements, or plans.”

Mattis added that the Defense Department is proven to be its best “when times are most difficult” and urged DoD staffers to “keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes.”

Mattis is the first retired military general to serve as defense secretary since George Marshall in the early 1950s.


Want to get more connected to the great stories and resources Connecting Vets has to offer? Click here and sign up for our weekly newsletter.