Read FULL TEXT of Secretary of Defense Mattis resignation letter

What follows is the full text of the resignation letter given by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis to US President Donald Trump on December 20. A few notes at the bottom will follow. The text was typed up by Seth J. Frantzman from copies of the letter posted online.

Secretary of Defense

December 20, 2018

Dear Mr. President:

I have been privileged to serve as our country’s 26th Secretary of Defense which has allowed me to serve alongside our men and women of the Department in defense of our citizens and our ideals.

I am proud of the progress that has been made over the past two years on some of the key goals articulated in our National Defense Strategy: Putting the Department on a more sound budgetary footing, improving readiness and lethality in our forces and reforming the Department’s business practices for greater performance. Our troops continue to provide the capabilities needed to prevail in conflict and sustain strong US global influence.

One core belief I have always held is that our strength as a nation is inextricably linked to the strength of our unique and comprehensive system of alliances and partnerships. While the US remains the indispensable nation in the free world, we cannot protect our interests or serve that role effectively without maintaining strong alliances and showing respect to those allies. Like you, I have said from the beginning that the armed forces of the United States should not be the policeman of the world. Instead we must use all tools of American power to provide for the common defense, including providing effective leadership to our alliances. NATO’s 29 democracies demonstrated that strength in their commitment to fighting alongside us following the 9-11 attack on America. The Defeat-ISIS coalition of 74 nations is further proof.

Similarly, I believe we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries who strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours. It is clear that China and Russia, for example, want to shape a world consistent with their authoritarian model -gaining veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic and security decisions – to promote their own interests at the expense of their neighbors, America and our allies. That is why we. Must use all the tools of American power to provide for the common defense.

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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 more conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.

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. The end date for my tenure is February 28, 2019, a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed as well as to make sure the Department’s interests are properly articulated and protected at upcoming events to include Congressional posture hearing and the NATO Defense Ministerial meeting in February. Further, that a full transition to a new Secretary of Defense occurs well in advance of the transition of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September in order to ensure stability within the Department.

I pledge my full effort to a smooth transition that ensures the needs and interests of the 2.15 million Service Members and 732,079 DoD civilians receive undistracted attention of thee Department at all times so that they can fulfill their critical, round-the-clock mission to protect the American people.

I very much appreciate this opportunity to serve the nation and our men and women in uniform.

James Mattis

 

The letter was reportedly also given to 50 other people at the Pentagon. The letter is interest in repeatedly mentioned “allies” or alliances, a total of seven times. It mentions the importance of showing respect to allies and adhering to American values. Democracy is a clear theme. The only adversaries mentioned are Russia and China. Note that Iran is not mentioned. He differentiates between “malign actors and strategic competitors.” This may be a reference to Iran and differentiating it from strategic challenges. He says that he agrees that the US cannot be a global policeman, which is one of the clear aspects of the current US “by, with and through” posture which uses special forces in up to 90 countries as force multipliers for locals. The war against ISIS was fought this way in Iraq and in Syria, using a minimum of troops. 

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