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New acting Defense secretary on first day: I look forward to carrying out Trump's vision at Pentagon

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanHouse Armed Services chairman expresses confidence in Esper amid aircraft carrier coronavirus crisis Boeing pleads for bailout under weight of coronavirus, 737 fallout Esper's chief of staff to depart at end of January MORE started his first day on the job Tuesday with a welcome memo that asserted the Pentagon “remains focused on safeguarding our nation” under the direction of President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE.

“As acting secretary of defense, I now look forward to working with President Trump to carry out his vision alongside strong leaders including the service secretaries, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the combatant commanders, and senior personnel in the Office of the Secretary of Defense,” Shanahan wrote. 

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“The Department of Defense continues to be one of our nation’s bedrock institutions. Our foundational strength lies in the remarkable men and women who volunteer to serve our country and protect our freedoms, while making immense personal sacrifice. It is an honor to work with such a dedicated team committed to the greatness of our nation.”

The New Year’s Day message also included kind words for his predecessor, former Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisPresident Trump: To know him is to 'No' him Nearly 300 more former national security officials sign Biden endorsement letter John Kelly called Trump 'the most flawed person' he's ever met: report MORE.

“We have deep respect for Secretary Mattis’ lifetime of service, and it has been a privilege to serve as his deputy secretary,” Shanahan said.

Mattis resigned on Dec. 20, shortly after Trump unexpectedly announced that the United States would withdraw its forces from Syria.

The former Marine Corps general’s resignation letter cited policy disagreements with the president, who has since doubled down on his decision to withdraw American troops from Syria. The choice has been widely criticized, including by Republicans in Washington.

Mattis initially planned to resign at the end of February to allow Trump time to find a replacement. Trump, however, announced that Mattis would leave months earlier, on Jan. 1.

Trump named then-Deputy Defense Secretary Shanahan — a former Boeing executive with little government experience — as the acting Pentagon chief for the start of 2019.

Mattis wrote in his farewell memo on Monday that the Pentagon’s civilian and military leadership remains “in the best possible hands.”