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President Donald Trump said Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is retiring "with distinction" at the end of February 2019, according to a tweet on Thursday.
"During Jim's tenure, tremendous progress has been made, especially with respect to the purchase of new fighting equipment," Trump said. "General Mattis was a great help to me in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations. A new Secretary of Defense will be named shortly. I greatly thank Jim for his service."
Rumors of Mattis' departure have swirled for months after passages in a new book Fear from investigative journalist Bob Woodward, published in September, depicted the defense secretary as describing Trump as having the understanding of a “fifth- or sixth-grader."
At the time, Trump had previously publicly supported Mattis, stating that he believed the quotes in Woodward's book were fabrications.
“I asked him whether or not this was true,” Trump said as he met with Republican lawmakers. “He said: ‘Not only is it not true; I’d like to write a statement.’ I said: ‘Thank you very much. That’s very nice.’ He wrote the most beautiful statement. I think he’s a terrific person. He’s doing a fantastic job as secretary of defense.”
Despite Trump’s assurances that his job was secure, Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin reported on Sept. 5 that the White House had already considering replacing Mattis within the next few months. Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane is considered a top contender.
On the 17th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Task & Purpose asked Mattis what his relationship was like with the president.
“No problem,” Mattis replied. “It's been the same all along.”
But when T&P; asked him if he intended to serve as defense secretary for the rest of President Trump’s time in office, Mattis demurred, “This is not a day I'm going to go further into politics.”
During his travels abroad, which included a "2+2" meeting in India alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a surprise visit to Afghanistan, Mattis appeared unflustered despite the political tensions at home.
"Mattis looked weary – he only sleeps a few hours per night – but he showed no outward signs of being under more stress than usual," as T&P;'s Jeff Schogol, embedded with Mattis during the trip, described the defense secretary. "Like the football player on the Heisman Trophy, Mattis stiff-arms gossip about D.C. power struggles and knife fights so he can get real work done."
"To call him 'stoic' would be an understatement," he added. "No matter how tumultuous the world gets, he rarely betrays his emotions."
This is a developing story and will be updated.
Editor's note: A combat wounded veteran, Ryan served in the U.S. Army as an armor officer assigned to 1st Battalion, 13th Armor Regiment. While deployed to Iraq in 2005, his vehicle was hit with an improvised explosive device buried in the road. He works as the Wounded Warrior Project's national Combat Stress Recovery Program director.
On Nov. 29, 2005, my life changed forever. I was a 24-year-old U.S. Army armor captain deployed to Taji, Iraq, when my vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. On that day, I lost two of my soldiers, Sgts. Jerry Mills and Donald Hasse, and I lost my right arm and left leg.
Fatal training accidents are on the rise. Now the families of the fallen are pushing lawmakers to do something about it
CAMP PENDLETON — Susan and Michael McDowell attended a memorial in June for their son, 1st Lt. Conor McDowell. Kathleen Isabel Bourque, the love of Conor's life, joined them. None of them had anticipated what they would be going through.
Conor, the McDowells' only child, was killed during a vehicle rollover accident in the Las Pulgas area of Camp Pendleton during routine Marine training on May 9. He was 24.
Just weeks before that emotional ceremony, Alexandrina Braica, her husband and five children attended a similar memorial at the same military base, this to honor Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, a member of the 1st Marine Raider Battalion who also was killed in a rollover accident, April 13, at age 29.
Braica, of Sacramento, was married and had a 4 1/2-month-old son.
"To see the love they had for Josh and to see the respect and appreciation was very emotional," Alexandrina Braica said of the battalion. "They spoke very highly of him and what a great leader he was. One of his commanders said, 'He was already the man he was because of the way he was raised.' As parents, we were given some credit."
While the tributes helped the McDowells and Braicas process their grief, the families remain unclear about what caused the training fatalities. They expected their sons eventually would deploy and put their lives at risk, but they didn't expect either would die while training on base.
"We're all still in denial, 'Did this really happen? Is he really gone?' Braica said. "When I got the phone call, Josh was not on my mind. That's why we were at peace. He was always in training and I never felt that it would happen at Camp Pendleton."
North Korea threatens to resume nuclear weapons and ICBM tests if US-South Korea military exercises proceed
SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States looks set to break a promise not to hold military exercises with South Korea, putting talks aimed at getting North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons at risk, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The United States' pattern of "unilaterally reneging on its commitments" is leading Pyongyang to reconsider its own commitments to discontinue tests of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the ministry said in a pair of statements released through state news agency KCNA.
Customs and Border Patrol denied a Marine vet entry into the US for his a scheduled citizenship interview
A deported Marine Corps veteran who has been unable to come back to the U.S. for more than a decade was denied entry to the country Monday morning when he asked to be let in for a scheduled citizenship interview.
Roman Sabal, 58, originally from Belize, came to the San Ysidro Port of Entry around 7:30 on Monday morning with an attorney to ask for "parole" to attend his naturalization interview scheduled for a little before noon in downtown San Diego. Border officials have the authority to temporarily allow people into the country on parole for "humanitarian or significant public benefit" reasons.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer took the reins at the Pentagon on Monday, becoming the third acting defense secretary since January.
Spencer is expected to temporarily lead the Pentagon while the Senate considers Army Secretary Mark Esper's nomination to succeed James Mattis as defense secretary. The Senate officially received Esper's nomination on Monday.