Outgoing United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis quoted a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant during the waning months of the Civil War in his farewell letter to his department’s employees.
“Let nothing which is transpiring, change, hinder, or delay your military movements, or plans,” Lincoln wrote in that letter, which Mattis quoted in his own.
That sentiment was echoed at various points in the remaining parts of Mattis’s farewell note. Mattis told DOD employees to keep true to their mission, suggesting that through great challenges, the department has done its best work.
“Our Department is proven to be at its best when the times are most difficult. So keep the faith in our country and hold fast, alongside our allies, aligned against our foes,” Mattis wrote, according to a tweet from NBC News showing an image of his letter.
The outgoing secretary also stated that he believed the DOD would be well-managed in the months and years ahead following his departure.
“Our Department’s leadership, civilian and military, remains in the best possible hands. I am confident that each of you remains undistracted from our sworn mission to support and defend the Constitution while protecting our way of life,” Mattis wrote.
A farewell message from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who departs his office this evening. pic.twitter.com/Wiix70SBC2
— Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe) December 31, 2018
Monday, December 31 marks the last day for Mattis as secretary of defense. He announced he’d be leaving the post earlier this month, and originally planned to leave sometime in January. That process was sped up, however, likely due to the public disagreements held between him and President Donald Trump over U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria.
Mattis resigned over Trump’s announcement of troop removal. The withdrawal of troops means that Russia and Iran will probably gain more power and influence over the region, and will leave Kurds in Syria at risk from separate attacks by ISIS and Turkey, reporting from CNN indicated.
On Monday morning, Trump continued to defend his decision, lambasting critics, including news organizations and retired military personnel, for suggesting the move could have bad consequences.
“I campaigned on getting out of Syria and other places,” Trump wrote in a tweet on Monday. “Now when I start getting out the Fake News Media, or some failed Generals who were unable to do the job before I arrived, like to complain about me & my tactics, which are working. Just doing what I said I was going to do!”
Trump previously said that he was withdrawing troops from Syria because the fight against ISIS had been successful. Trump, who said ISIS was “defeated,” later stepped back on those comments, instead saying that the terrorist organization was “very nearly defeated,” per previous reporting from the Inquisitr.