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Acting Defense Secretary: I now look forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision


Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan started his first day on the job Tuesday with a welcome memo that asserted the Pentagon “remains focused on safeguarding our nation” under the direction of President Trump.

“As acting secretary of defense, I now look forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision alongside strong leaders including the service secretaries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, and senior personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Shanahan wrote.

“The Department of Defense continues to be one of our nation’s bedrock institutions. Our foundational strength lies in the remarkable men and women who volunteer to serve our country and protect our freedoms, while making immense personal sacrifice. It is an honor to work with such a dedicated team committed to the greatness of our nation.”

The New Year’s Day message also included kind words for his predecessor, former Defense Secretary James Mattis.

“We have deep respect for Secretary Mattis’ lifetime of service, and it has been a privilege to serve as his deputy secretary,” Shanahan said.

Mattis resigned on Dec. 20, shortly after Trump unexpectedly announced that the United States would withdraw its forces from Syria.

The former Marine Corps general’s resignation letter cited policy disagreements with the president, who has since doubled down on his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria. The choice has been widely criticized, including by Republicans in Washington.

Mattis initially planned to resign at the end of February to allow Trump time to find a replacement. Trump, however, announced that Mattis would leave months earlier, on Jan. 1.

Trump named then-Deputy Defense Secretary Shanahan - a former Boeing executive with little government experience – as the acting Pentagon chief for the start of 2019.

Mattis wrote in his farewell memo on Monday that the Pentagon’s civilian and military leadership remains “in the best possible hands.”

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