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 MattisLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Trump called top military brass 'a bunch of dopes and babies' in 2017: book 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 TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' 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 ShanahanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall MORE, began serving as acting Defense secretary at the beginning of January.