- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2018

President Trump said Sunday that Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan will become acting Pentagon chief on Jan. 1, greatly accelerating the exit of current Defense Secretary James Mattis who had promised to stay on the job until the end of February.

The president announced on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan will take the reins of the Defense Department at the beginning of 2019. It’s unclear whether Mr. Mattis decided to leave his post earlier than expected or whether he’s being forced out ahead of schedule by the White House.

A former Boeing executive, Mr. Shanahan has been deputy defense secretary since July 2017.

“I am pleased to announce that our very talented Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, will assume the title of Acting Secretary of Defense starting January 1, 2019,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!”

Mr. Mattis resigned last Thursday in response to the president’s stunning decision to fully withdrawal all U.S. troops from Syria, declaring that the Islamic State has been defeated. While he vehemently disagreed with the move, and articulated broader concerns with Mr. Trump’s worldview and foreign policy approach in his blistering resignation letter, Mr. Mattis said he wanted to stay on until the end of February to ensure a smooth transition at the Pentagon.

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