Defense Secretary Mattis will retire in February

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WASHINGTON (AP) U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will retire at the end of February.

Mattis submitted a letter of resignation to President Donald Trump Wednesday in which he said he believes “we must be resolute and unambiguous in our approach to those countries whose strategic interests are increasingly in tension with ours,” citing China and Russia.

“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in those issues.”

“We must do everything possible to advance an international order that is most conducive to our security, prosperity and values, and we are strengthened in this effort by the solidarity of our alliances.”

“Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” he wrote.

Mr. Trump announced the resignation in a tweet and said a replacement will be named soon.

Mr. Trump's announcement came a day after he surprised U.S. allies and members of Congress by announcing the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.