Pentagon comptroller to serve as acting deputy defense secretary

Senator Jim Webb leaves after a news conference in Washington

Trump also went after the "failed generals" who oversaw American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, likely referring Gen. David Petraeus, a former Central Intelligence Agency director under former President Barack Obama, and Adm. William McRaven, a Navy SEAL who oversaw the operation to kill Osama bin Laden.

Acrimony between Trump and prominent former military leaders has spilled into the open in the wake of Mattis' resignation.

Keane said Webb would "be able to identify with" Trump on that matter, and is also similarly less hawkish on other worldwide conflicts.

According to US officials, Trump is also mulling a 50 percent draw down in Afghanistan - another momentous move that has left lawmakers and global allies fearing for what comes next.

But Trump was reportedly irked by news coverage of Mattis' impending departure that focused on his resignation letter in which he cited policy differences with the president and said Trump was abandoning U.S. allies.

In a meeting with members of his Cabinet, Trump boasted that he had "essentially" fired Mattis by moving up the four-star general's departure date by two months.

Trump has also publicly feuded with various generals during his campaign and presidency.

As for Mattis, he originally offered to remain in his post through February to pave the way for a new defense secretary and prepare for an upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ministerial.

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Trump also reportedly has a strained relationship with retired General John Kelly, his former chief of staff. I hope he does well.

In fact, Mattis tendered his resignation in response to Trump's announcement that he would withdraw all 2,000 US troops deployed to Syria within the next several months.

Mattis had strongly held beliefs about maintaining and respecting allies, which he cited in his resignation letter to Trump.

In December 2017, Trump credited Mattis for progress in defeating Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists.

The defense official said Shanahan would later Wednesday attend a cabinet meeting with Trump, the president's first of 2019.

"We're talking about sand and death".

"We have some great allies, but a lot of our allies were taking advantage of our taxpayers and our country", Trump said.

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