Pentagon chief of staff Kevin Sweeney becomes third senior defence official to quit in matter of weeks

Pentagon chief of staff becomes third senior defense official to quit in a matter of weeks.  A senior Pentagon official has become the third senior staff member to quit following Donald Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw American troops from Syria  Kevin Sweeney resigned as a department of defense chief of staff. Announcing his decision in a statement, the rear admiral said: “After two years in the Pentagon, I’ve decided the time is right to return to the private sector.”  Pointedly, he paid tribute to “the men and women of the department of defense” – but made no mention of Trump.  The resignation comes days after James Mattis left his post as defense secretary. The four-star general announced his departure in December telling Trump he believed in “treating allies with respect”.  Department spokeswoman Dana White also left her post following the president’s surprise announcement to leave Syria, as did Brett McGurk, the presidential special envoy to the global coalition fighting Isis.  Despite Trump appearing to row back in the last week by suggesting the promised withdrawal would not be immediate, officials are said to have been astonished that he apparently took the decision without consultation after a phone call with Turkish president Recep Erdoğan.  It is understood Erdoğan suggested the exit policy.  Meanwhile, domestically, talks to end the partial shutdown of the federal government will resume on Sunday but a breakthrough looks unlikely after Trump tweeted there was “not much headway made” in negotiations with Democrats after the latest meeting with his political rivals.   The Republican president has refused to fully fund the government until Congress grants $5.6bn for a US_Mexico border wall.  He has said he is prepared for the shutdown – which has left many workers without pay since December 22 – to last months or even years.

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