Trump claims he 'essentially fired' Mattis

Trump claims he 'essentially fired' Mattis

It was a very public reminder of the challenges that Shanahan, as acting defense secretary, faces as he navigates the complex terrain that led to the early end of his predecessor's tenure.

At the meeting, Shanahan indicated that China would be his top priority.

In announcing Norquist as the Pentagon's new No. 2, Shanahan said the Department of Defense "chief financial officer and comptroller for the past 19 months. has had insight into virtually every tenet of this department", according to the official.

Mattis' public resignation could also make Senate confirmation perilous for any hand-picked successor.

"As acting secretary of defence, I now look forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision alongside strong leaders including the service secretaries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, and senior personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense", he had said. How had he done in Afghanistan?

After a string of policy clashes over the past almost two years, Mr. Mattis resigned abruptly in the wake of Mr. Trump's order late last month to withdraw all 2,000 USA forces now deployed to Syria, and slash the 14,000 US forces in Afghanistan by half in the coming year, citing in part the strain Mr. Trump's policies have placed on America's allies.

"While we are focused on ongoing operations, Acting Secretary Shanahan told the team to remember: "China, China, China"," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Trump then asked rhetorically "What's he done for me?". "We're not talking about vast wealth", Trump said.

In his Cabinet meeting remarks with reporters present, Trump said he was in no rush to get US troops out of Syria but did not clarify a timetable.

Shanahan had worked in the private sector and had no military or diplomatic experience when Trump appointed him deputy defense secretary in 2017.

Mattis resigned on Dec 20, after Trump stunned the U.S. establishment by ordering a full troop withdrawal from Syria.

The Trump administration has sought to counter China in a variety of areas as Beijing has stepped up its military activities in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

Shanahan has recused himself from participating in Boeing-related issues, a spokesman said.

David Norquist, the Pentagon's comptroller, will perform the duties of the deputy as well as retain his current title.

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