Mattis Farewell Message Urges Keeping Faith in ‘Difficult Times’

(Bloomberg) -- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent the military a farewell message Monday, saying “our department is proven to be at its best when the times are most difficult.”

Mattis, who resigned over President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, had planned to stay through February. But Trump ordered the retired Marine Corps general to clear out his desk by the end of the year after he released a resignation letter that made clear his criticism of Trump’s “America First” foreign policy as one that damages relations with allies and emboldens adversaries.

In the brief farewell message, Mattis echoed that theme, urging the military to “keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes.”

Mattis plans to hand over power in a ritual phone call just before midnight to Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. Trump said last week that the former Boeing Co. executive, who worked closely with Mattis, might stay on as Pentagon chief “for a long time.”

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