In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018 file photo, U.S. Secretary for Defense Jim Mattis arrives for a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, Pool)

Mattis exit not likely to damage Canada-U.S. security ties: experts

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced this week he’d resign as of the end of February

  • Dec. 21, 2018 6:00 p.m.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ decision to resign creates a void for Canada, says former Defence Minister Peter MacKay, because of Mattis’s deep understanding of Canada’s role in joint NATO and UN missions and good ties with Canadian security officials.

His years of experience in the U.S. military and on-the-ground understanding of the parts of the world where he served as a Marine general, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, are “virtually irreplaceable,” MacKay said.

After serving for two years at the top of the U.S. military machine, Mattis announced Thursday that he’d resign as of the end of February, in a move widely seen as a rebuke of Trump’s decision to abrupt withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

The retired general has been considered a moderating influence on Trump over his last two years as Pentagon chief, which is why concerns have been raised by ally nations about how his departure could affect U.S. security and foreign policy.

These concerns are particularly focused on America’s role in the NATO transatlantic alliance after Trump said this week that not only will the U.S. military pull out of Syria, but the number of U.S. troops will also be cut in half in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is part of the NATO-led joint mission Operation Resolute Support.

“In spite of the moniker ‘Mad Dog Mattis’ he was anything but. He was a highly intelligent, highly rational guy and he saw first-hand the integration of defence, diplomacy, development that Canada was doing and was very full of praise and admiration for that,” MacKay said.

Mattis’s departure is even more keenly felt in light of the departures of H.R. McMaster and John Kelly, who U.S. President Donald Trump also appointed to serve in his administration, MacKay added. McMaster was an army general who was Trump’s national-security adviser for a year; Kelly is a retired Marine general who served as secretary of homeland security and then Trump’s chief of staff.

McMaster resigned last April; Kelly is to leave the White House at the end of this year.

READ MORE: Trump looking at several candidates to replace chief of staff

“Jim Mattis and the others have and feel an abiding respect for Canada and our role in NATO and in NORAD, for our niche capabilities, what we were able to do along with others in the coalition, both the UN and NATO coalition in Afghanistan, our support role in other missions,” MacKay said. “That, too, is in some jeopardy depending on who replaces Gen. Mattis.”

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Drinking in two city parks to be allowed by Chilliwack council

Crossing and Vedder Park both designated for pilot project that encourages responsible drinking

RCMP charge Langley man in connection with boat collision on Cultus Lake

A 67-year-old man allegedly operated a motor boat that collided with a woman paddling a canoe

UPDATE: Sts’ailes FSR Fire ‘being held’ at 12 hectares

Status changed from ‘out of control’ on Wednesday afternoon

Airlines dispute Dr. Henry’s claim they ‘very rarely’ give accurate COVID contact tracing info

Air Canada, WestJet say they provide names and contact information

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Maple Ridge firefighting camp empowers young women

Camp Ignite to take place at Justice Institute on Sunday, Aug. 9

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

Abbotsford mom worried about her two kids in Beirut following explosion

Shelley Beyak’s children were abducted by their dad in 2018

Young Canadians, hospitality workers bear the brunt of mental strain in 2020: report

A study by Morneau Shepell points to economic uncertainty in the pandemic as the cause for angst

Former high-stakes poker player from Mission missing in Nevada

Brad Booth last seen on July 13, told roommate he was going camping

Health Canada recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers in evolving list

Organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional

Most Read