Trump says he fired Mattis, who left over Syria

Nick UtSikorsky Boeing Offer Sneak Peek at New Double Rotor Helicopter

Nick UtSikorsky Boeing Offer Sneak Peek at New Double Rotor Helicopter

Keane said Webb would "be able to identify with" Trump on that matter, and is also similarly less hawkish on other global conflicts. "As you know, President Obama fired him, and essentially so did I", he explained to reporters, contradicting an earlier statement.

"Not too good", Trump said at a Cabinet meeting.

Trump suggested that Shanahan, who took over as acting defense secretary when Mattis ended his tenure Monday, agrees with him on this.

Mattis, who disagreed with the plan, offered his resignation after failing to convince Trump to reverse course on the pull-out.

One reason Mattis resigned was Trump's surprise decision to order the withdrawal of United States forces from Syria.

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"We all hear about how our competitiveness has eroded", Shanahan said.

The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, did not elaborate on Shanahan's views on China.

As he started his new job, Shanahan, who previously served as deputy defense secretary, told the Pentagon to focus on the National Defense Strategy, a Mattis-era review that highlights a new era of "Great Power competition" with Russian Federation and China.

"In 2019, the National Defence Strategy remains our guide".

Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, had been Mattis' deputy and it was unclear how long he will remain in the role of acting secretary.

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Though Trump later added that he wished Mattis well in retirement, Mattis handed over the reigns of the Pentagon to Deputy Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan this week without the pomp and circumstance typical of departing secretaries of defence.

The national defence strategy, released by Mattis in January past year, describes China as "a strategic competitor" that "will continue to pursue a military modernisation program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near term and displacement of the United States to achieve global pre-eminence in the future".

Trump tweeted days later that Mattis would depart the administration at the beginning of the year, as opposed to his initial departure date of February 28, writing that he had given Mattis a "second chance" in government after he was "ingloriously fired" by former President Barack Obama.

Separately, Shanahan's spokesman, Lt. Col. Joe Buccino, said that as part of Shanahan's ethics agreement he had stepped aside himself "for the duration of his service" at the Pentagon from "matters in which the Boeing Company is a party".

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