Washington, D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about President Trump’s decision to set an early date for Defense Secretary Mattis’s departure from the Pentagon:

“It is a mistake for President Trump to deny the country an opportunity to have a stable transition to a new Secretary of Defense in this fashion. I believe Deputy Secretary Shanahan will be able to successfully serve as acting Secretary of Defense. His expertise in management, research and development, acquisition, and procurement are valuable and conducive to the operations of the Pentagon. However, he does not have the comprehensive understanding of global national security threats that Secretary Mattis does. Throwing him into the role of acting secretary with no notice in this way unnecessarily places the United States in a riskier position.

“And why must Secretary Mattis leave early? The President has no given no reason why Mattis can’t stay until the end of February as he planned. We face too many challenges and too complex a threat environment to add to our risk by leaving the country without an experienced national security leader in the seat.”