Pentagon chief of staff joins outflow of top officials

Pentagon chief of staff joins outflow of top officials

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Kevin Sweeney, the chief of staff at the Pentagon, resigns in the wake of the departure of James Mattis as defense secretary (DoD photo)

WASHINGTON — The chief of staff for the Pentagon resigned his position, adding to the departure and shakeup in the top areas of the Defense Department.

In an email sent to Pentagon reporters, retired Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney said he was leaving the job he started in January 2017.

“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,” Sweeney said in the Saturday night email.

The departure is immediate.

As of last Friday, Pentagon spokespersons were saying Sweeney planned to remain on the job.

His leaving comes less than a month after James Mattis announced his resignation as Defense Secretary, triggered in large part because of President Trump’s unilateral decision to begin pulling U.S. troops from Syria at an accelerated process. Mattis’ last day was December 31, 2018.

Brett McGurk, who had been the top U.S. envoy to the global coalition to fight ISIS, also resigned effective December 31 in protest of the president’s decision.

“I greatly appreciate Kevin Sweeney’s service to our nation, first as a Navy officer of more than 30 years, and then as the Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Defense for the past two years,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Sunday. “As he steps down to re-enter the private sector, we’re going to miss him here in the Pentagon. We know great things are in store for him and his family.

Dana White, who had been the top Pentagon spokesperson, resigned the afternoon of December 31 in advance of Mattis’ departure a few hours later. She was under an internal investigation for conduct toward staff, a probe that continues.

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