Rear Admiral Kevin Sweeney has resigned his post as chief of staff to the US secretary of defence, the defence department said on Saturday. Sweeney had become chief of staff to former defence secretary Jim Mattis in January 2017, and his resignation comes soon after Mattis’s own pointed departure in December. The two had known each other for years. Mattis said then that he had resigned in protest of President Trump’s decision to withdraw American forces 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 on the department’s website. “It has been an honor to serve again alongside the men and women of the department of defence.” A spokeswoman for the department said Saturday that she did not have any further comment beyond the statement.

Sweeney’s resignation follows a number of recent highprofile departures from the administration. The president said in December that John Kelly would step down as White House chief of staff. Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy to the coalition fighting the IS, also quit last month.


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