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On New Year's Eve, A Brief Phone Call Will Mark The End Of Mattis' Tenure As Defense Secretary
On New Year's Eve, a short phone call will mark the end of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' tenure and the beginning of Patrick Shanahan's command of the Pentagon.
Mattis, 68, is officially out as defense secretary on Dec. 31 — two months ahead of when he was supposed to turn over the reins of the Defense Department. President Donald Trump forced Mattis out ahead of schedule after becoming angry over coverage of Mattis' resignation letter, which sharply rebuked the president's foreign policy views.
The handoff between Mattis and Shanahan will have little pomp and circumstance when it takes place — in the form of a conference call just minutes before 2018 comes to a close, according to a defense official.
"Contact will be established by the Office of Secretary of Defense communications team who will bring Mr. Mattis and Mr. Shanahan into the call," a defense official explained, adding that the call will go by an approved script that, unfortunately, will not be made public.
Patrick Shanahan (center) c1.staticflickr.com
Still, the basic gist is that Mattis and Shanahan will be brought on the line, go through a prepared text handing over command, and then it will be all over. As the ball drops in New York City, a new acting Secretary of Defense will emerge. And Mattis will likely head west to his hometown of Richland, Washington, or back to his teaching position at Stanford's Hoover Institution.
"The position of the Secretary of Defense is a command position and the purpose of the call is to ensure all members within the government know who is in command," the official said. "The call is also a courtesy and a mark of respect for the incoming Secretary of Defense."
A former Boeing senior vice president, Shanahan has been serving as deputy secretary of defense since July 2017. He'll be serving as acting Secretary of Defense for the time being, although he is reportedly under consideration to be nominated as a permanent replacement, in addition to Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.
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Once again, the United States and the Taliban are apparently close to striking a peace deal. Such a peace agreement has been rumored to be in the works longer than the latest "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" sequel. (The difference is Keanu Reeves has fewer f**ks to give than U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.)
Both sides appeared to be close to reaching an agreement in September until the Taliban took credit for an attack that killed Army Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. That prompted President Donald Trump to angrily cancel a planned summit with the Taliban that had been scheduled to take place at Camp David, Maryland, on Sept. 8.
Now Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has told a Pakistani newspaper that he is "optimistic" that the Taliban could reach an agreement with U.S. negotiators by the end of January.
75 years ago, Audie Murphy earned his Medal of Honor with nothing but a burning tank destroyer's .50 cal and insane bravery
Editor's note: a version of this post first appeared in 2018
On January 26, 1945, the most decorated U.S. service member of World War II earned his legacy in a fiery fashion.
Florida senators are pushing for Purple Hearts for service members wounded in the NAS Pensacola shooting
Florida's two senators are pushing the Defense Department to award Purple Hearts to the U.S. service members wounded in the December shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola.
The Navy Department is in the middle of a new force-structure review, which could change the number and types of ships the sea services say they'll need to fight future conflicts. But instead of trying to project what they will need three decades out, which has been the case in past assessments, acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly said the services will take a shorter view.
"I don't know what the threat's going to be 30 years from now, but if we're building a force structure for 30 years from now, I would suggest we're probably not building the right one," he said Friday at a National Defense Industrial Association event.
The Navy completed its last force-structure assessment in 2016. That 30-year plan called for a 355-ship fleet.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The police officer killed during a traffic stop in Newport News on Thursday night was a well-liked young officer who just graduated from the police academy seven months ago, Police Chief Steve Drew said at a somber news conference Friday.