- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter pledged to lead an ‘orderly transition’ of the Defense Department to President Elect Donald Trump and his new administration.

In a department - wide memorandum issued Wednesday, Mr. Carter praised military officers, servicemembers and department officials for refraining from efforts to politicize U.S. defense and national security priorities during this year’s grinding election season.

“I am proud of the way each and every one of you conducted yourselves during this campaign,” Mr. Carter wrote. “Standing apart from the politics and instead focusing on our sacred mission” to defend America’s interests worldwide, he added.

From the outset of this year’s rough and tumble election season, Pentagon officials went to extreme lengths to keep their distance from either candidate’s positions on how best to defend the nation.

Mr. Carter’s memo was issued hours after GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump shockingly defeated Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton to become the 45th President of the United States.

As the Pentagon, and the rest of the federal government, turn their focus toward transition to a Trump administration, defense and national security leaders “must stay focused on our duty to confront current challenges or any that may arise during this [transition] period,” Mr. Carter added.

Over 5,000 to 6,000 US servicemembers are assisting local forces in Iraq and Syria to oust Islamic State from both countries.

With dual offensives against the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is considered the capital of the terror group’s so-called caliphate, bogged down in tough, street-to - street fighting, the Pentagon has not ruled out that additional US forces may be needed to clear both cities.

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