In 2014, Mattis Said What Would Make Him Resign In Protest. In 2018, He Actually Did It

news

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has resigned in protest of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw all American troops from Syria, according to The New York Times.


His resignation letter, while critical of the president's views on foreign policy, did not mention Syria, but officials told The Times that Mattis traveled to the White House on Thursday "in a last attempt to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result."

Interestingly, Mattis once revealed what would lead him to resign in protest during an April 2014 talk in San Francisco, and he made it clear that he would only do so under the most dire of circumstances, since his subordinates would not be able to do the same.

"The lance corporals can't retire. They're going. That's all there is to it," he said.

First, some context:

In 2003, Mattis was the commanding general of the 1st Marine Division. He was ordered into Iraq in March and led his division to victory over Baghdad. But privately, he knew going to war against Saddam Hussein probably wasn't the best call.

"I think people were pretty much aware that the US military didn't think it was a very wise idea," he said in 2015, before being named Defense Secretary. "But we give a cheery 'Aye aye, Sir.' Because when you elect someone commander in chief — we give our advice. We generally give it in private."

Mattis, like many other generals before the war, offered his advice to then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the problems of going into Iraq. This frank advice is expected of high-ranking military officers, but ultimately it's up to the civilian leadership to make the decision.

Still, seven retired generals eventually came out publicly against Rumsfeld in 2007 in what was dubbed "the generals' revolt." Mattis, still on active duty at the time, was not among them.

Later, during his April 2014 talk in San Francisco, he was asked specifically about whether there was a scenario in which he may have retired in protest. Mattis allowed some unethical orders and other scenarios that would lead him to do so, but he said, "you have to be very careful about doing that. The lance corporals can't retire. They're going. That's all there is to it."

He added: "You abandon him only under the most dire circumstances, where the message you have to send can be sent no other way. I never confronted that situation."

In Dec. 2018, it looks like he finally did.

“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. 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 wrote in his resignation letter.

“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.”

SEE ALSO: Trump Is Considering Withdrawing US Troops From Afghanistan In The Coming Weeks

U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Sandra Welch

This article originally appeared on Military.com.

Inside Forward Operating Base Oqab in Kabul, Afghanistan stands a wall painted with a mural of an airman kneeling before a battlefield cross. Beneath it, a black gravestone bookended with flowers and dangling dog tags displays the names of eight U.S. airmen and an American contractor killed in a horrific insider attack at Kabul International Airport in 2011.

It's one of a number of such memorials ranging from plaques, murals and concrete T-walls scattered across Afghanistan. For the last eight years, those tributes have been proof to the families of the fallen that their loved ones have not been forgotten. But with a final U.S. pullout from Afghanistan possibly imminent, those families fear the combat-zone memorials may be lost for good.

Read More Show Less
DOD photo

After a string of high profile incidents, the commander overseeing the Navy SEALs released an all hands memo stating that the elite Naval Special Warfare community has a discipline problem, and pinned the blame on those who place loyalty to their teammates over the Navy and the nation they serve.

Read More Show Less
Ed Mahoney/Kickstarter

In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.

The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.

A small group of veterans hopes to change that.

Read More Show Less
F-16 Fighting Falcon (Photo: US Air Force)

For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.

The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less