Pentagon chief of staff resigns

The Department of Defense's chief of staff Rear Adm. Kevin Sweeney has resigned, according to a statement.

Sweeney said in a brief statement that he planned to return to the private sector, giving no reason for his departure. His exit comes just days after Secretary of Defense James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden courts veterans amid fallout from Trump military controversies Trump says he wanted to take out Syria's Assad but Mattis opposed it Gary Cohn: 'I haven't made up my mind' on vote for president in November MORE, for whom Sweeney previously served, left the agency after announcing his resignation earlier in the month.

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"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 his announcement.

His resignation also followed that of another top Mattis ally, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White, who announced her resignation at the end of December.

“I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me by this administration to serve alongside Secretary Mattis, our Service members and all the civilians who support them. It has been my honor and privilege,” White wrote on Twitter last month. “Stay safe and God bless.”

Mattis's resignation was thought to be tied to the surprise announcement from President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally MORE regarding the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, where coalition forces continue to battle elements of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on the ground.

Trump's withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria was also credited at the time with pushing the resignation of Brett McGurk, the president's top envoy to anti-ISIS coalition forces in the region.

Mattis's former deputy, 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, began serving as acting Defense secretary at the beginning of January.