Defense Secretary James Mattis will be replaced as of Jan. 1, President Donald Trump announced Sunday.
Mattis last week tendered his resignation, saying that he would leave in February, Fox News reported. Mattis noted in his resignation, which was widely reported to be triggered by Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria, that he and Trump did not see eye to eye on matters such as the value of alliances.
“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,” Mattis 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.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that he had decided who would replace Mattis on an interim basis.
“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. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!” Trump tweeted.
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. Patrick has a long list of accomplishments while serving as Deputy, & previously Boeing. He will be great!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2018
Mattis’s resignation was one of the main topics of Sunday’s TV news shows.
Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania said on “Meet the Press” that Mattis’ letter troubled him.
“I think General Mattis has put his finger on where the president has views that are very, very distinct from the vast majority of Republicans and, probably, Democrats, elected and unelected,” Toomey said.
“I think the president does not share, I would say, my view that the Pax Americana of the post-war era has been enormously good for America,” he said, saying that in assessing any nominees to replace Mattis he will seek a defense secretary who “shares a more traditional view about America’s role in the world.”
Shanahan was confirmed to his current post in July 2017 after a battle with the late Sen. John McCain. The Arizona Republican was irked that Shanahan was not initially sufficiently supportive of arming Ukraine in any showdown against Russia, CNN reported.
The website Defense News published portions of an interview it conducted with Shanahan long before he was tapped to replace Mattis.
“Too often we focus on process, or budget, or level of effort,” Shanahan said. “The Pentagon should focus on outcomes and outputs — our performance. This focus on performance should drive us to field unmatched lethality, execute on our modernization plans and achieve this affordably.”
Shanahan said that his efforts have been focused on reforming the overall way in which the Defense Department operates.
“It’s very easy in a complex environment like this to get distracted. The tactical can consume an enormous amount of time,” he said. “But my job is really to drive change at scale and there’s a formula for doing that. And the formula really has to do with change (that) must be systemic.”
He cautioned that change takes time.
“In any large organization, successful change requires rewiring and retooling systems. These are not quick fixes, and take time to produce results, but it is only way to produce lasting change at scale,” he said.
“In the end, the question will be: ‘Did we implement the National Defense Strategy?’ The NDS is our plan, now we are assessing performance of the enterprise against that plan, and rewiring the systems to enable improved, long-term performance,” he said.