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 MattisMacron: US 'retreat from Syria' won't change mission to eradicate ISIS Poll: Most Americans want US troops in Syria Fox's Griffin: Was told by diplomat that Syria attack was 'direct result' of US pullout decision 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 directed Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build Trump Tower in Moscow during 2016 campaign: report DC train system losing 0k per day during government shutdown Senate Republicans eye rules change to speed Trump nominees 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 ShanahanTrump announces new missile defense plan, chastises allies on spending Pentagon missile defense doctrine to explore space-base tech Overnight Defense: Four Americans killed in Syria suicide attack | State of the Union becomes latest shutdown flashpoint | Missile defense review on track for Thursday release MORE, began serving as acting Defense secretary at the beginning of January.