The staff exodus continues over at the Pentagon, where Rear Adm. Kevin M. Sweeney resigned his post as chief of staff to the secretary of defense Saturday and became the third top official to step down at the Department of Defense since President Donald Trump announced withdrawal of American troops from Syria. “After two years in the Pentagon, I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector,” Sweeney said in a statement. “It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense.” Sweeney didn’t mention Trump in his short statement that was posted on the Department of Defense’s website.
Sweeney’s resignation after serving in the role as chief of staff since January 2017 came days after Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White stepped down from her role. “I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by this administration to serve alongside Secretary Mattis, our Service members and all the civilians who support them,” White tweeted Monday. “It has been my honor and privilege. Stay safe and God bless.” White stepped down in the midst of an internal Pentagon investigation into her conduct following numerous complaints.
The date of White’s resignation also coincided with former defense secretary James Mattis stepping down from his role earlier than he had initially anticipated. Mattis resigned in late December following Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying in his resignation letter that Trump has “the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours.” Trump later moved Mattis’ departure date to Jan. 1, which was almost two months earlier than originally planned.
Sweeney’s resignation also comes at a time when other high-profile officials from elsewhere in the administration decided to leave their posts or were pushed out. The president announced in early December that John Kelly would leave his post and has since been replaced by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Brett McGurk, who was the special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS also announced his resignation last month.
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