Published: Sat, December 29, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Mattis wishes troops 'Merry Christmas' ahead of departure

Mattis wishes troops 'Merry Christmas' ahead of departure

A week after President Donald Trump directed the military to draw up plans to withdraw about half the American troops deployed in Afghanistan, military officials are walking a fine line detailing the future of the longest USA war in history.

Although Mattis was expected to make his departure from the administration by the end of February, Trump indicated on Sunday that he would be pushed out early, tweeting Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will become the acting defense secretary on January 1. Although Mattis planned to step down at the end of February, the president announced Sunday that Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan would be taking over the top spot starting on the first of the year. "It is regrettable that the president must now choose a new Secretary of Defense".

Trump's acting chief of staff said earlier this week that Trump had known for "quite some time now" that he and Mattis "did not share some of the same philosophies".

According to a senior administration official cited by the Washington Post, Mattis was informed of his dismissal by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who had been directed by Trump to inform the secretary of defense.

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"1. We in the USA military are privileged to defend America, especially at this time of year, for we ensure our fellow Americans celebrate this season of hope in peace and safety". "To all you lads and lasses holding the line in 2018 on land, at sea or in the air, thanks for keeping the faith".

"We know our freedoms are not guaranteed by themselves; they need defenders", the letter continues. "These are two sides that are fighting against one another, and neither of them will achieve a military victory". It is hard work, but this is nothing new: "Since Washington crossed the DE on Christmas Day in 1776, American troops have missed holidays to defend our citizens' experiment in democracy". "Storm clouds loom, yet because of you, your fellow citizens live safe at home", the Christmas message reassured troops.

Mattis concluded the missive with his own prayer for his men and women, saying, "Merry Christmas and may God hold you safe". Speculation on his meaning may reverberate.

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