Mattis wishes troops 'Merry Christmas' ahead of departure

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Mattis resigned in protest of Trump's decision to pull all USA troops out of Syria.

"We are substantially subsidizing the Militaries of many VERY rich countries all over the world, while at the same time these countries take total advantage of the USA, and our TAXPAYERS, on Trade", Trump said in a series of tweets.

He claims Mattis didn't see a problem with it.but he does and he's fixing it.

I said to him, 'Jim, what are you standing the duty for?' And he said, 'Sir, I looked at the duty roster for today and there was a young major who had it who is married and had a family; and so I'm a bachelor, I thought why should the major miss out on the fun of having Christmas with his family, and so I took the duty for him.

It was unclear whether Gen Mattis had been informed prior to the announcement.

Despite the falling out, the Pentagon said on Monday that Mattis authorized Trump's withdrawal of U.S forces from Syria, one of the decisions that helped trigger his resignation.

"To those few Senators who think I don't like or don't appreciate being allied with other countries, they are wrong, I DO", Trump wrote on Twitter.

"Relying on Turkey to destroy ISIS for the United States is a big mistake", Graham tweeted.

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American allies "take advantage of their friendship with the United States, both in military Protection and trade", he complained in a second tweet.

"We believe that such action at this time is a premature and costly mistake that not only threatens the safety and security of the United States but also emboldens" the Islamic State group, President Bashar Assad's government, Iran and Russian Federation, according to the letter, signed by McConnell and eight other senators, including Sen.

A key unanswered question is what the administration will do for the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which have gotten weapons and training to fight Islamic State insurgents.

Mattis was also unhappy with Trump's order to develop plans to pull out up to half of the 14,000 USA forces in Afghanistan. The move brought withering criticism from fellow Republicans, Democrats and global allies.

A White House official said that in the new year Trump wants to focus on streamlining purchases at the Pentagon, an issue on which Shanahan has already been working.

A White House official said Trump decided Mattis should leave the administration earlier than planned to avoid a drawn-out transition when someone on hand whom they consider a qualified deputy capable of running the Pentagon in an acting capacity.

Mattis' abrupt resignation sparked concern among allies, who credit the retired Marine general with building trust and tempering isolationist impulses.

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