Kevin Sweeney, the chief of staff of the US Department of Defence, has announced his resignation from the post. Explaining his decision, Rear Admiral Sweeney said in a statement that "the time is right to return to the private sector".
In a terse resignation letter, Sweeney said it had been "an honour to serve" alongside his colleagues in the department, but made no mention of Trump. The move comes a month after the Defence Secretary James Mattis announced his departure in December 2018.
• Defense Secretary Chief of Staff Kevin Sweeney served in this role since January 2017.
• He is now the third senior Pentagon official to step down since President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
• His resignation closely follows that of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis who stood down in December after acknowledging policy differences with the US president.
• General Mattis left his post early, after initially planning to stay in his role until February 2019.
• Mattis, who worked with Sweeney when he led the US Central Command, picked Sweeney to be his chief of staff in early 2017.
• Sweeney retired as a Rear Admiral from the US Navy in 2014.
As per analysts, the rear admiral’s departure adds to a sense of uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration's defence and foreign policies since the surprise announcement of the planned withdrawal from Syria.
Earlier this week, Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White also announced her departure from the post.
It was followed by the resignation of Brett McGurk, the Presidential Special Envoy to the global coalition fighting so-called Islamic State.
US President Donald Trump has faced strong criticism over the planned US pullout from Syria.
Latest reports suggest that the withdrawal process is being slowed down. Speaking on the matter, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said recently that the withdrawal of US troops from Syria will depend on certain conditions.
On a trip to Israel and Turkey, Bolton said he would seek Turkish assurances that Kurds in northern Syria would be safe.
The US also wants to ensure that the remnants of the Islamic State (IS) group are defeated.
When Trump had first announced the move in the middle of December, he had said: "They're all coming back and they're coming back now." In his announcement, Trump had also declared that IS had been "defeated".
After the president made his announcement on December 19, US officials said American forces had been given 30 days to leave Syria.
However, speaking on January 6, 2019, Trump said, "We're going to be removing our troops. I never said we were doing it that quickly. He continued by saying that the US is pulling out of Syria but it won’t be finally pulled out until ISIS is gone.
On January 8, 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will embark on a week-long tour of the Middle East designed to reassure allies in the region.