New acting secretary of defense tells Pentagon 'to remember China, China, China'

New acting secretary of defense tells Pentagon 'to remember China, China, China'

"It is an honour to work with such a dedicated team committed to the greatness of our nation", he had said.

Shanahan attended Trump's cabinet meeting on Wednesday afternoon, the president's first of 2019.

Mattis his resignation days after Trump said he was planning to pull U.S. troops completely out of war-torn Syria, at first declaring Islamic State had been defeated and then asserting that the militant group should be handled by other countries in the region.

In a resignation letter that amounted to a rebuke of Trump's view on how to treat alliances and adversaries, Mattis wrote, "My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues".

Among the most immediate issues on his plate will be the pace at which the USA pulls 2,200 or so troops out of Syria, after Trump's decision last month to exit the war-torn country. "We need to control our borders", he said.

The announcement was made during a meeting Wednesday morning at the Pentagon with all of the service secretaries and undersecretaries of defense, according to a defense official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The national defence strategy, released by Mattis in January a year ago, 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".

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One aide says Shanahan told the gathering that he's focused on the strategy written and implemented under Mattis that focuses on Russian Federation and China as "great power" competitors.

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.

It's unclear whether Trump will nominate Shanahan for Senate confirmation as defense secretary or turn to another candidate.

The Trump administration has had a rocky relationship with China.

Shanahan spent 31 years of his career with the Chicago-headquartered defense contractor before being appointed deputy secretary of defense in July 2017. He also announced that Pentagon Comptroller David Norquist would take on his former duties as Deputy Defense Secretary.

"The National Defence Strategy is [Mattis'] strategy", Shanahan said.

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