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

White Rock’s namesake spray-painted black

Vandalism occurred sometime between Friday and Saturday

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility diagnosed with COVID-19

Fraser Health said a rapid response team is on site

South Surrey resident blames city after house floods

Marilyn Molter said debris from city-planted maple trees easily clogs street drains

Senior White Rock election worker not concerned about safety at the polls

‘Casting your vote will be like getting a take out coffee,’ says Elections BC CEO

Surrey’s Johnston Heights reporting COVID-19 exposure

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

Community Connections: Gordie Hogg speaks with Margaret Cuthbert

Former mayor, MP began posting conversations on YouTube in June

Canadian ski resorts wrestle with pandemic-vs.-profit dilemma as COVID-19 persists

Few are actually restricting the total number of skiers they allow on the hill

Victoria-area RCMP locate high-risk sex offender thanks to help of taxi cab driver

Scott Jones wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, ‘a risk to women and girls,’ police say

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A (virtual) walk around the world by 88-year-old B.C. man

George Doi says it’s simple: ‘I like walking’

End of CERB means uncertainty for some, new system for others

As of a week ago, the CERB had paid out $79.3 billion to 8.8 million people

Horgan, Wilkinson trade barbs over MSP premiums, health care at campaign stops

Horgan called a snap election for Oct. 24 earlier this week

Most Read