Department of Defense Chief of Staff Sweeney Departs Pentagon

Kevin M. Sweeney
Following Defense Secretary Jim Mattis' resignation, Kevin Sweeney, the chief of staff to the secretary of defense, has also stepped down from the Pentagon.

"After two years in the Pentagon, I've decided the time is right to return to the private sector. It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the Department of Defense," reads Sweeney's resignation letter.

Sweeney has been with the Navy for several decades, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. He served on several ships, and oversaw the restoration and return to operations for the USS Cole after it was damaged in a terrorist attack in October of 2000. He became chief of staff under former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in January 2017, and follows Mattis' own departure in December of 2017.

The move would not be especially noteworthy in otherwise calm times, but under the backdrop of a government shutdown, the unexpected planned withdrawal from Syria, and a president threatening to declare a "national emergency" to bestow himself with broad-reaching powers, the move heightens fears of instability in the Department of Defense.

Mattis resigned in protest over President Trump's decision to leave Syria, which will threaten US allies in the region to attacked by Turkey and ISIS, while creating a power vacuum likely to be filled by Russia and Iran. 

Mattis had set an end date for his service for the end February, but President Trump, angered by a resignation letter critical of the President's actions, removed Mattis early as additional military brass also head for the exit doors.

In December, John Kelly, White House chief of staff and another former general, as well as Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the coalition fighting ISIS, both resigned. 

Pentagon spokesperson Dana White has also resigned as of the past week.

Image via the U.S. Navy.

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