Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is resigning

Access to the comments Comments
By David K. Li  with NBC News U.S. News
Image: Jim Mattis
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis speaks at the Pentagon, on April 13, 2018, on the U.S. military response, along with France and Britain, to Syria's chemical weapon attack on April 7.   -  Copyright  Carolyn Kaster AP file

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will leave his post in a little more than two months, President Donald Trump announced on Thursday.

"General Jim Mattis will be retiring, with distinction, at the end of February, after having served my Administration as Secretary of Defense for the past two years," President Donald Trump tweeted.

"During Jim's tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting … equipment. General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service!"

Trump and Mattis have reportedly been at odds recently over military issues, according to numerous published reports.

In his resignation letter to the president, Mattis implicitly criticized him for not treating allies with respect and for not being "clear-eyed" about U.S. enemies and competitors.

"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," he wrote.

"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."

Mattis told the president in the letter he should have a defense chief who shares his views.

"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 soon-to-be former defense chief said.

This is a breaking story. Please check back for updates.