In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 file photo, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, right, speaks with U.S. Secretary for Defense Jim Mattis prior to a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. (AP/Virginia Mayo/Pool)
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The extraordinary resignation letter that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis handed to a surprised President Donald Trump was not just a product of two years of accumulating frustration with an impulsive boss, but an outline of the strategic hazards facing the next Pentagon chief.Mattis announced on Thursday his plan to resign, a move prompted by the decision by the president to pull all of the approximately 2,000 U.S. troops from the fight against Daesh (ISIS) in northeastern Syria.Mattis also was dismayed by plans under consideration to cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and, as his letter made clear, did not see eye to eye with a president who has expressed disdain for NATO and doubts about keeping troops in Asia. The person nominated to succeed Mattis will face a Senate likely to probe for evidence of new strategic direction in hotspots like Syria, Afghanistan and the Korean peninsula. In making clear that he could no longer tolerate Trump's approach to U.S. foreign policy, Mattis appeared to fashion a resignation letter that not only expressed his reasons for leaving but also sounded an alarm. The Pentagon was still reeling Friday from the news that Mattis was leaving.Mattis, 68, is the first Pentagon chief to resign in protest over a president's foreign policy in many decades.
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